Memory provides us the ability to build upon previous experiences creating context for navigating conversations, day-to-day tasks and life itself. Until recent history, the brain and body served as the sole means of retaining information through written, drawn, verbal and visual expression and documentation. With the 19th and 20th century advent of photography, audio recording and film, biological memory was aided with additional storage and recollection capabilities allowing moments and experiences to be preserved for later viewing and sharing. Paving the way for relatively limitless documentation, digital technology could theoretically be a viable way to document first, second and third person experiences of every moment of every life. Technologies like video, photography, audio, augmented and virtual reality create a facsimile of an experience, a new experience that becomes a unique and real memory which can then be studied, considered and recontextualized as a separate experience from the actual and/or original.
Through social media and various methods of file exchange and storage, the ability to share the ubiquitous digital memory and experience becomes easier creating public accessibility and sharing at an unprecedented rate. Even though the experience originates in the past or present moment through live streaming, these new impressions live on reshaping future experiences, conversations and impressions of a person’s experiences, words and actions.
When processing and revisiting a live or recorded reality, several questions may arise. What is the value of these saved experiences? Who is the owner? How do these facsimiles evolve over time to become real lived experiences? How do these recontextualized experiences influence our future decisions and experiences? What are the criteria for delineating the difference of private versus public information? Do people reveal too much about their personal experiences? How is privacy defined in the 21st century and beyond? Influenced by the bright color palette and process of recording Australian Aboriginal “Dreamings”, the stories and beliefs behind creation, these selected works from the series Meta Memory: Digital Facsimile Retrospection Recontextualized cull through my personal images placing them in a high visibility environment while still preserving the privacy my lived moments.
Dreamings, originally exclusively ephemeral, are observed experiences connected to their environment. These stories find their way into celebration and ceremony, recorded on bodies, dirt, trees or rocks and are passed through the oral storytelling tradition from generation to generation. During the 1970s, Several Australian Aboriginals began using acrylic paint and canvas to preserve these stories. Because of the personal and sacred nature, choices were made about how much of the story to reveal in public. Some aspects of the stories are left out, only so much of the story is told. Despite being incomplete, for me, there is still a connection to the universal story of the human condition along with the respect I have for the knowledge and connection to place that an Indigenous people develops over the course of tens of thousands of years. The knowledge of maintaining a symbiotic and respectful connection to the environment.
Combined with social media, digital artifacts can reveal more than some individuals may desire. My goal is to take moments in time and nest them into one memory, modifying and tweaking each image set until the original context is indecipherable, a visual encryption. Even though the outside viewer no longer has free access to the individual memories, the aesthetic qualities can be consumed and become a new experience for the viewer. I also incorporate what I call Nanobots as the translucent top layer and vinyl wall symbols found hovering over the piece. These symbolize technology as the possible system managers that organize, manipulate and move the memories from place to place. Originally inspired by Ray Kurzweil’s book The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, these designs and concepts have made their way into most of my work over the last fifteen years.
SAM – Ancestral Modern Australian Aboriginal Art Exhibit.” SAM – Seattle Art Museum, Asian Art Museum & Olympic Sculpture Park, http://www1.seattleartmuseum.org/ancestralmodern/. Accessed 20 Feb. 2021.