Algorithmic Memory, Absence and Presence in the Cloud


Session Title:

  • Augmented Reality in Practice: from Motion Tracking to Live Memory Machines

Presentation Title:

  • Algorithmic Memory, Absence and Presence in the Cloud




  • Can you have a memory without photographing it? Where does a memory live? How do we make sense of them? If it’s online, who owns it? What is association at a global scale? What are the conventions of western time and how might that be visualised or utilised? Can you live forever in the cloud? This paper examines these questions through the media art installation augment_me.

    augment_me is a responsive visual database; a memory machine of sorts but a live and developing one. The images that constitute the database are a sequence of photographs and videos, collected over the past 8 years and tracks my relationships with people, things, places, scenarios (all of which are viewable on the photo-sharing site Flickr®). They are sequentially embedded with contextual associations arranged (initially) by time and date. This, combined with being able to access and make those images move, appear and disappear – by anyone or anything within view of the camera/sensor in the space where the installation is exhibited, makes manifest the metaphor of memory.

    These images can take on a particular and slightly voyeuristic significance. For others, I imagine, it is the generic face anyone. We recognise these compositions, these tableaux vivants, these experiences – the urban middle class individual’s photo of leisure and tourism. All that distinguishes this collection from the endless expanse of similar imagery is their artist. The vector of all these moments is the artist own existence, “which they affirm and erase simultaneously. We are seeing his life through the eyes of an invisible protagonist. Or are we seeing his life flash before his eyes? Is this how it will be at the moment of death? The ordinariness of our existence spread before us. The objects, people and places that have made up our lives flowing, like data, away from the organizing principle of our own subjectivity.”

    “The ultimate promise is that the flow of data may restore the flow of life when it is temporarily halted. Biological death becomes a small death, data becomes the through-line that joins old subject to new.”

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