[-empyre-] Forward of Ingrid Bachmann's intro post

timothy murray tcm1 at cornell.edu
Mon Nov 26 16:20:41 EST 2007

You have to begin to lose your memory, if only in bits and pieces, 
to realize that memory is what makes our lives. Life without memory 
is no life at all...Our memory is our coherence, our reason, our feeling, 
even our action. Without it, we are nothing.

	Luis Buñuel

What sort of a world, what sort of a self, can be preserved in a man 
who has lost the greater part of his memory and, with this, his past, 
and his moorings in time?

	Oliver Sacks (in regards to the condition called Korsakov's 
syndrome characterized by profound
	amnesia and subsequent loss of personal identity)

Hello all and warm greetings from snowy and cold Montreal.

Thank you to Renate and Tim for their invitation to participate in 
this interesting discussion with the provocative theme "Memory Errors 
in the Techno Sphere: Art, Accident, Archive".  Many thanks, also for 
your generous and kind introduction.

This is a topic that is close to me and I am delighted to offer a 
few, perhaps nonlinear, thoughts on this topic. I speak from the 
position of a practicing artist whose investment is largely based in 
grounding the digital experience into the material world, as someone 
who is interested in implicating the concerns and issues of our 
cultural moment into the digital realm and in interrogating the 
notion of the new in new media.

I am interested in the idea of technological memory in the age of Alzheimer's.

I wanted to begin my contribution to this discussion with these 
quotes, to explore the amnesiac quality of the technosphere, from 
this most amnesiac of places, the culture and continent that is home 
to Canada and the US (I think Mexico may be exempt from this cultural 

I was struck by something that came up in an earlier post about the 
relation of site to memory, in the linkage between the specificity of 
place and the event memory.

On a pragmatic level as an artist, I have had the experience of a 
kind of memory loss and I imagine others have had this as well. The 
realization that the techno sphere - that the seemingly infinite 
galaxy of bits and bytes, is still firmly rooted in hardware. A 
pragmatic example, an old installation of mine, Knit One, Swim2, 
which as it turns out can only function with its original computer, 
original operating system and original software, in this case Lingo4. 
I can remake the piece (and have) but the I would argue that the 
piece is in many ways a different piece, similar, but a little like a 
bastard cousin, familiar but a little off. I am intrigued by this, 
for it challenges in a very direct way, long contested notions of 
originality and authorship. But it is still be somewhat disturbing 
when it is your own work!

While the work can certainly be remade using newer technologies, 
possibly even more efficiently, what is the loss in this translation? 
and  what role does the software and hardware contribute to the 
understanding of the work? On the one hand, I like to view this 
process as a form of technological natural selection, not in the 
Darwinian sense, but perhaps more in Bergson's sense of creative 

I am also interested in and wonder what this confident reliance on 
the expanse of virtual memory, data bases, and archives have on us 
physiologically.  I wonder what a mapping of the synapses in our 
brain look like at this historical moment in the West as we endlessly 
multi task while simultaneously offloading more and more of our 
memory capacities into hard drives and external devices. It appears 
as if our data memory storage, our external and portable hard drives 
have become our memory prosthetics. What does it mean when we 
delegate the faculty of memory to a machine? when our body is outside 
of the process?


Ingrid Bachmann
Associate Dean, Research & International
Faculty of Fine Arts
Concordia University
1455 de Maisonneuve blvd  ouest
EV 2-743 Montréal, Qc  H3G 1M8

514.848.2424 ext 5040
ibachman at alcor.concordia.ca
bachmann at videotron.ca


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