[-empyre-] November 2007 on -empyre- : Memory Errors in theTechnosphere: Art, Accident, Archive

Christian McCrea christian at wolvesevolve.com
Mon Nov 5 14:15:48 EST 2007

A few thoughts:

The Amputation of Memory: Two Quotes from Marc Auge's Oblivion

"The definition of oblivion as loss of  remembrance takes on another
meaning as soon as one perceives it as a part of  memory itself ...
Memories are crafted by oblivion as the outlines of the shore are created
by the sea ... Oblivion is the life force of memory and remembrance is its
- Marc Auge, Oblivion

Why create a title for something so short? An interference apparatus such
as a title gives this message a mode, a place in an index different somehow
to a thousand others. It keynotes what can and can't be said around it; the
installation of gravity. Memories are crafted by oblivion; the amputation of
our instincts to forget onto vast multi-gigabyte sheets of email means
our own memory has no space. I cannot forget what they said that day in
anger. I am disallowed the glitch of my memory.

The crystal palace, Bordieu's corridors, the passengenwerk, are the amputations
of the public world into a zone which brought the circus into our hands. Digital
memory is unforgettable. Its glitches are total, or not at all.
Corruption vacates
the archive. The file is corrupted, not dusty. The DVD skips, it
doesn't scratch,
a chapter of film gone forever. The hard-drive fails. Fails!

Paolo Cherchi Usai's book The Death of Cinema notes the tale of Toy Story.
When being tranferred to DVD, Pixar found out that the original hardrives had
failed and were useless. Using keyframes and sequence information, the
film was re-rendered with some very minor adjustments. Those who saw
Toy Story at the cinema are the only ones who have seen Toy Story. If
you saw it on DVD, you have seen Toy Story remade, shot for shot.
Cherchi Usai's concept
of the 'ideal image' is as relevant to data as it is to cinema, the data culture
slowly coming under the rhetoric of the image. All our prevarications about
the social web and new directions in online movements are bound up in
other questions about the immortality of television. Youtube's method of
epiphenomena means that nothing can be famous twice, merely recatagorised
as Top Rated.

Auge's refrains in Oblivion are poetic recursives of the damage done to
memory when everything is archived. What I consider to be the key moments
in the book - top and tail of this post - are added here for interest.

  "Some travellers by vocation manage their geographic assets with
forethought. They try to put something aside for the future; a few
terrae incognitae, a few places to canvas, which they keep an eye on
while waiting to set foot there one day. They leave themselves some
future emotions. But often these are the same ones who reserve other
places for the pleasures of the return and who attempt to keep a few
pieces of the past intact to be continued, to be completed, a few
alternative presents, a few unchanged settings for a few parallel

   They know perfectly well that these different lives are not really
parallel and that, by passing from one protected youth to another,
from one continent to another, they won't stop aging, but it is enough
for them that these lives are intertwined with sufficient flexibility
or linked with a loose enough bond for them to be able to have the
illusion or warding off the flow of time, by moving around in space.

   What matters to them is the bliss, or rather the instant, at the
moment that they leave the plane, greeted by the steward and the
hostesses - much like the possessed who comes out of his state of
possession under the tender and watchful eye of his assistants - to
slip into a past they already do not remember having left, and they
feel irresistibly happy."
   - Marc Augé, Oblivion


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