MoRM goes to Brazil

Fresh off the performance of the Museum of Random Memory project in Aarhus earlier this year, the MoRM team has submitted a proposal for an installation at the Bienal de Arte Digital in Brazil for 2018, titled The Museum of Random Memory: Subtecnologias. Notes from the submission are included in part below.

Subtecnologias is a site-specific intervention and participatory performance proposed
by the Museum of Random Memory (MoRM) collective for FAD Brazil 2018. The MoRM is a temporary museum that is constructed by popular participation. It explores the hybridity of contemporary life and the connection between real/simulated socio-technical worlds by asking people to donate memories of their connections/disconnections: “What do you remember of being networked? What is your first memory of living in a hybrid culture? Do you remember feeling disconnected?”

The memories that constitute the museum take the form of analogue or digital objects, images or stories. They are contributed through the intervention’s website or collected in-person by the MoRM “curators.” During the first phase of the iteration of the museum for FAD Brazil 2018, curators will visit diverse sites and communities, for one week before and during the opening of the festival, collecting artifacts and stories.

floor

During the second phase, the display of these memories will be assembled prior to the Festival’s opening, with the collection continuing and the display growing during the first three days of the festival. At the site of Oi Futuro Flamengo, the memories will be made visible as a network of objects inside the vitrine and 3 acrylic boxes. The objects and stories will attest to the hybridity of our communication: from high-tech to slow media, from pervasive to forgotten. At the intervention website, people from all over the world can contribute their memories and see the archive of memories/connections. Memories will also be analyzed by participants and a neural network algorithm to be connected by similarities (words, topics, etc), creating an innovative network visualization of collective memory. The website’s visualizations will be presented on the old and new technology screens installed at Oi Futuro Flamengo and as a large-scale projection on the opening night.

shelves

After the period of the exhibition in Rio, the final phase of the project will be the visualization of the network of submitted digital memories and their connections at the LED screen on Atmosphera (Belo Horizonte).

More updates on this project will come once the team confirms approval of the installation.

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Field notes from the Museum of Random Memory, Iteration #2


Un-curatorial interpretation with Kristoffer and Chris

The up-front purpose is to playfully engage citizens to think about how they might like to better control how they contribute data… The behind-the-scenes purpose is to generate data and ideas about how municipalities, buildings, or institutions are currently collecting and archiving citizen data and how we can encourage citizen engagement in these discussions. We prompt citizens to think about everyday scraps of stuff they’d like to remember or forget to spark critical reflections about what is, or could be, relevant to the city… What future heritage might we create if we all paid closer attention to the traces of ourselves that might eventually become part of some larger pool of cultural memory?

– On the Museum of Random Memory, Annette Markham

 

The Museum of Random Memory invited people to contribute to an archive with a memory that they wanted to remember or forget, and functioned through different layers of interaction. A participant who approached the museum space was met by a contribution assistant, an archivist, who guided the participant through the process of uploading a photo of a memory they wished to contribute. The chosen photo would then appear on the museum’s website, and, choosing whether or not the memory was to be forgotten or remembered, the photo would be added to a grid of other memories and either fade out over time (a forgotten memory) or remain visible for all to see (a memory chosen for preservation). During this step, the archivist collected notes about the donated memory on a sheet, and engaged the participant with a brief conversation about the memory they chose. The participant could then choose to follow up their discussion with a one-on-one interpretation of their memory with another member of the museum. This interpretation session took place in a separate, darkened room, with desk lighting helping to transform the space into a quiet refuge from the bustle of the main area outside.

In the planning phases of the project, there was a continuing gravitation towards representations of the lived experience and the role of the artist as curator/anthropologist/archaeologist. In Dieter Roelstaete’s Field Notes, the rise of information economy is contrasted alongside contemporary art’s affinity for recovering, remembering, reconstructing, reenacting, and repeating the past. Roelstaete’s words run in tandem to Annette Markham’s quoting of Madeleine Grumet, stating that every telling is a partial prevarication, and in another sense: we cannot simply recreate the past. Despite all this, in the process of recycling collected memories, our historiographic impulses omit attention to the liberating experience of forgetting. In our group consisting of people from many different walks of life, were we anthropologists, archivists, artists, or something else?


Reconstruction/representation/recycling of memory; notes by Andrew Sempere

Qualitatively and in its simplest essence, the museum was an art project and an archive, joined through the data it collected in the form of memories to be forgotten, with those memories being repurposed through the construct of a digital archive of images. The method of excising a part of our lives (being asked to literally forget) through the donation of a memory to the archive and conversely reinforcing memorable experiences created or encouraged a cathartic experience, a freeing of one’s self from the memorial baggage that we would otherwise carry until the ravages of time stripped our memories away. The museum acted as the vehicle for this catharsis, engaging participants through each step of the process, from donating a memory to a subsequent “un-interpretation” of a memory through one-on-one conversation with the donor. The product of the digital archive – the collection of images, the reference tags, the digital tools for exploring the collection – remained secondary to the emotional experience of social engagement of our memories with others.

Curation, which invariably follows the archiving of content, remains a post-thought, a ritual that we perform for the satisfaction of seeing order in our work and outlining a process for ourselves and an uncertain future audience. In the framework of the museum, curation was the collating, interpreting, un-interpreting, recycling, re-telling, and re-configuring of the memories within our digital archive into stories and experiences that exposed our humanity and helped us find common threads of existence with each other. The warm and intimate conversations with people who had donated memories to the museum demonstrated and reinforced the notion that the way we share data in a digital world can have major implications in its usefulness to society as a whole. The success of the museum came not in a digital wall of random memories, but in the interpretation of its content through various hyper-realisms of conversation, shared emotions, and human understanding.

Our group of academics, practitioners, and students performed a wide range of roles, yet we all shared the implicit role of anthropologists tasked with understanding and interpreting the different cultural threads presented to us through the contributions of the museum’s donors. Now that the museum has concluded another iteration, what have we learned about these processes, and what will we carry on into the future?