[-empyre-]: Memory Errors in the Technosphere: Art, Accident, Archive

maria miranda maria at out-of-sync.com
Sun Nov 4 09:29:29 EST 2007

  " The interruption of digital memory error accentuates what Thomas  
Hobbes lamented in a much earlier age of technological revolution as  
the fragility or "decaying sense" of memory."

... but  digital memory is not the only medium that errs. I'm  
reminded of a thought provoking work by the always entertaining MTAA  
called the Updates --http://turbulence.org/Works/1year/-- that  
appeared a few years ago -- it was a series of online performances  
where the Art duo remembered/remade seminal performance works from  
the 60s and 70s using digital forms and automating processes that had  
involved time and endurance.

One Update worked with Sam Tehching Hsieh's Cage piece (http:// 
www.one-year-performance.com/), where Tehching spent a year in a  
cage. MTAA transferred the task of doing time and enduring for one  
year to the viewer.  That is, they created a video as if documenting  
their time spent in solitary confinement, in a room --matching rooms  
in their case - that recreated Tehching's original cage, as if it was  
for a year.

While MTAA work with the way that the digital archive can fake the  
present time and space, for me their work also throws light on the  
analogue archive, that is, the black and white photographs that  
documented the orginal piece - - and that shape our memories (proof)  
of the time and space that Tehching spent in his cell. As I watched  
this performance  online it had the weird effect of making me  
question the original piece by Sam Tehching Hsieh. Did he really  
remain in his cage for one year with nothing to read, listen to or  
even talk to!! How do we know? Photos of course. But may he not have  
slipped out occasionally for a quick bite and jog around the  
neighbourhood to clear his head or taken in a movie -- and slipped  
back into his cage in the morning?The only documentation of this  
original endurance piece is  the photos - grim black and white photos  
of Tehching in his cage. In understanding the artifice of the digital  
MTAA have thrown open the possibility for all media to be fakes and  
therefore all media memory to be fundamentally in error.

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