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Photography Cross-Stitch And Rebuilding The Berlin Wall

How do you photograph something that's not really there? Like the Berlin Wall, for example.

Diane Meyer, an assistant professor of photography at Loyola Marymount University, has one approach: She takes pictures where the wall once stood, prints them out, and then literally rebuilds it with a needle and thread.

The fall of the Berlin Wall decisively marked both the physical and metaphorical end of an era. But memory doesn't really work like that. We can dismantle a physical barrier, but its traces will persist — either in the landscape itself or in collective memory.

That's what first struck Meyer about the Berlin Wall — how, even in its physical absence, it has somehow remained. Wandering through the now-vibrant neighborhoods, she says, "it was hard to imagine how they'd be divided so severely — and how that would have been part of the visual landscape every day."

Meyer interprets what the separation must have felt like by obscuring the image with cross-stitching.

"The sewing is raised off the print and becomes a barrier — and a pixelated view of what's behind it," she says. "I'm equating memory and forgetting with digital file corruption."

That mental leap — from the Berlin Wall's legacy to digital file corruption — is not a huge one.

Because at least in the case of the Berlin Wall, some physical remnants remain to cue our collective memory. But moving forward, if we want to demarcate history — or even just our lives — into chapters, will we able to draw lines in the sand if so much exists in the cloud?