Memories without a cause

On the third class at ITP Ziv was in To Remember and to Forget.

System for remembering

System for remembering


Memories are often purposeful, sometimes to confirm, to identify, to justify, to bond, to understand ourselves and others. But once in a while I have a flashback triggered by something I see or hear or smell or maybe feel at a given moment. I don’t know why I remember such events. They have no purpose. They come and go as they please without any of my conscious efforts. Usually they come as a short scene, like a clip from a movie I’ve seen long ago.

Someone in some place at some time doing something or saying something.

Can I capture these memories in a system as it happens or at least right after it happened, so that it leaves a darker mark in my subconscious. Can I add to it, by allowing others present to add details, to even alter this memory? Can I embed a memory of an event that I didn’t even notice at the time?

In this project I attempt to capture details of an event from multiple people from multiple sides and recombines details into different narratives of the same event. The categories for these details are seemingly rigid and conventional: who, what, where, when. But it is really as rigid and conventional as language and as the people involved can be. For instance “when” can be “September 26th, 2014” or it can be “when she passed slowly by my desk” (which can also be a what depending on the person). The only restriction is that there is no more than six details for each category. These details are then assembled back together by a rubix cube, fitting disparate elements into one narrative or pattern, then repeating this over and over to produce different memories of the same event.

I tried this very quickly in class when I presented the project: to remember that moment as an event to be saved in my memory. I think it was a success. I actually can recollect a lot of details from that seemingly mundane moment. I remember everyone who had wanted to be added to the “who” category, even though I had never spoken to any of them in the past, aside from Taeyoon. I remember seemingly random details from that class, like Taeyoon wondering about whether mice have an innate fear of cats. And these memories in turn altered my interaction with the people that I remember.