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Memory Exercises

Frances Yates described to us the story of the Art of Memory - the ancient mnemonic devices that enabled orators to remember long speeches and arguments. In the absence of abundant paper, "the artificial memory was the student's notebook." The art utilized virtual spatial organization of information through the building of memory spaces, which were subsequently navigable.

Through the art's reliance on affect, it became increasingly associated with physical representations of striking and unusual human figures, which consequently became a tool of the Church to transfer its teachings to the European populace. And it is this didactic art that one still sees in the paintings and architecture of the mediaeval era.

My investigations revisited these spatial tactics, but in the age of digital documentation and playback. A series of prototype installations were built, each investigating different themes of the art, and of human memory itself.

Method of Loci - Stories are recorded in spaces, and subsequently played out back onto the spaces when they are ‘reminded‘ of them by new characters.

Temporary Storage Medium - Using phosporescent paint to depict the way in which memories are stored indefinitely, then written over with newer ones.

The Cup Game - An investigation into how we continuously remember events in our short term memory but rarely make reference to them. What happens when we visualize them?

Delay Mirrors - Mirrors that take on the personality of a sleepy observer - increasingly tired of what it sees.

Palimpsest Mirror - A realisation of the idea of layered wallpaper and the memories stored within them.

Peter Pan's Shadow - ‘Fake shadows‘ allow stories to be told through the blurring of identities.

Facial Rose window - The idea of representing the long-term memory of the space, using the faces of the people who inhabited it.

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