The Birth of Mem­ory from the Spirit of the Ma­chine

Symposium:


Session Title:

  • Transmedia Narrative: Modes of Digital Scholarship and Design Across Public Space

Presentation Title:

  • The Birth of Mem­ory from the Spirit of the Ma­chine

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Abstract:

  • Panel: Transmedia Narrative: Modes of Digital Scholarship and Design Across Public Space

    The com­puter is a ma­chine of the fu­ture – not only do we still at­tach to it the con­no­ta­tion of tech­no­log­i­cal so­phis­ti­ca­tion and fu­ture ori­en­ta­tion, also in its func­tion as an in­for­ma­tion pro­cess­ing ma­chine it only deals with the pre­sent, cal­cu­lat­ing to­wards to fu­ture. Being solely aware of its cur­rent state and the tran­si­tion rules of how to move to­wards the next state the com­puter is an in­her­ently am­nesic ma­chine. The mem­ory com­ple­ment to this in­for­ma­tion proces­sor is the data­base, adding the op­tion to store data and keep them shielded from the on­go­ing mem­ory era­sure. But as it is part of the regime of the pre­sent the data­base of­fers its records as co-pre­sent, elim­i­nat­ing the no­tion of the past as a time vec­tor span­ning dif­fer­ent chrono­log­i­cal in­stances from past, to fu­ture.  The paper ex­plores how the pro­ject “Bleed­ing Through – Lay­ers of Los An­ge­les 1920-1986” uses the pres­ence-struc­ture of the ma­chine to con­struct an al­le­gory of the process of re­mem­ber­ing and the era­sure of mem­ory in the in­ter­play of per­sonal rec­ol­lec­tion and col­lec­tive mem­ory. In­spired by Nor­man Klein’s “His­tory of For­get­ting” we de­vised a process within which el­e­ments from the past end­lessly fold upon them­selves in a vir­tual nav­i­ga­tion through Down­town Los An­ge­les. Using sig­ni­fy­ing chains fol­low­ing the con­cept of Markov chains we are de­vis­ing a mech­a­nism that touches on the sub­con­scious processes of mean­ing cre­ation de­scribed by Jacques Lacan.


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