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

Norie Neumark norie5 at mac.com
Tue Nov 6 12:03:36 EST 2007

Some riffs on Christian's and Gabriela's posts which raise for me  
issues of analogue memory and bodily memory and their relations to  
the technosphere.

If memory is a shore line phenomenon, crafted by Oblivion from the  
sea-side, perhaps nostalgia crafts it from
the land's end (nostalgia's etymology relating to homesickness,  
longing for one's land). What I'm wondering is whether
the digital era is producing a sort of nostalgia for memory -- as if  
it were ever reliable, or durable? Are we displacing our anxieties  
about the fragility of memory onto the digital's tendancies to  
fragility and error? While I share a longing for books rather than  
photocopies and online documents -- both so unpleasurable to read --  
I can remember when my bookcase was flooded by a leak from the  
apartment upstairs. My anxieties about the physical archive were then  
just as great -- fire, flood and other assorted other acts of god and  
just as edged with fears that maybe I had brought the disasters on  
(as one can feel when computers let us down... is it our fault,  
failure to save, upgrade...) And then of course there were and are  
anxieties about age (ours, parents') and memory, that can now  
transfer to computers-- in a way it's easier to deal with computer's  
age problems.

Is there a nostalgia  for bodily memories -- a nostalgia fueled and  
sped up by the digital,  -- forgetting that they are also subject to  
error and accident? I'm currently fascinated with one's own memories  
of things that didn't happen or didn't happen to us. In my work on  
shock, it was interesting how people's bodily memories of shock  
events were "unreliable" -- in fact part of why I first got  
interested in shock was the ambiguity of my own memory of a car  
accident -- I remembered the accident taking minutes (which was how I  
experienced the event in a sort of slow motion time) when "in fact"  
it took seconds. (Other people described the same experience...)

And then there are the memories we can have of a place we've never  
been to, but remember through the media...

On 05/11/2007, at 2:15 PM, Christian McCrea wrote:

> 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
> product."
> - 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
> lives.
>    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
> -Christian
> _______________________________________________
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> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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