Mnemomat: Prototype – β_01.0

In the interactive installation Mnemomat: Prototype – β_01.0, I continue my research into the influence of the medium of photography on human memory. I am interested in how photography as such affects the creation of false memories as well as changing and constructing memories in the relationship between the personal and the collective. Despite the timeless power of the photographic image, which is central both in the context of remembrance and for the work of art in question, due to the current epidemic situation lasting more than a year, the power of the photographic image used in the work is even greater and more evident. Isolation, loneliness, and the prohibition of socializing have collectively moved us to a time when there is a chronic lack of memory anchors/memories of otherwise ordinary events.

Perception of the times of waiting in relation to experiencing the eventful times is diametrical on several levels. In anticipation and waiting, time drags on, and when we look back, we often hardly remember the wait; when we are active, time passes quickly and we form many memories. The situation we have been in for more than a year has confronted us with a lack of one of the main sources of collective memories: the importance of experiencing and spending time in a community or collective and consequently with feelings of lack thereof. Mnemomat is trying to fill this lack.

The visitor enters the Mnemomat through a curtain. When he sits down in it, there is a screen in front of him with an interactive interface that guides him through the process of scanning (photographing). Mnemomat then inserts the captured image of the user into a random photo of a group event, with a date from the first or second wave of the epidemic. During this process, a printed photo of the formulated situation appears on the outside of the Mnemomat in the pick-up slot, which the Mnemomat user can take with them – to remember. In this way, Mnemomat creates a random memento for the user of an event he has never experienced – of a time that does not exist.

Due to the lack of production resources, Mnemomat: Prototype – β_01.0 has its specific do-it-yourself aesthetics and is based on recycling – it consists of technical equipment, lights and cardboard, open-source code, webcam, technology and materials found at home, borrowed from friends, family or collected in the local environment. As a result, there is a high probability that the Mnemomat in the P74 gallery may stop working – the printer may run out of ink or paper, the system may crash… For these cases, the gallery staff has a strip labeled "Out of order", which irrevocably reveals Mnemomat’s painful inability to actually fill the memory gap we all feel.

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