2021 — 2023



The visitor enters Mnemomat through a curtain. Mnemomat scans the visitor. It inserts their image into a randomly selected situation. The visitor can claim their photograph from a pick-up slot on the outside of Mnemomat. Mnemomat creates a lasting memory of an event that has actually never happened. The situation itself does not exist. The memory is a lie. The memory is a desire.

In Mnemomat (2021–2022), Dalea Kovačec uses the interactive experience and photograph manipulation to draw attention to the influence of photographs and images on our memories and our perception of our own past. Photographs can lead to false beliefs, they are “cognitive springboards” which help us generate thoughts, feelings and new images in our minds. All of these can merge into mental pictures that are very difficult to distinguish from actual lived experiences. Technology is becoming an extension and a co-creator of our memory and consequently of our entire identity. When we transfer our memories onto devices and physical objects, we also transfer the actual process of remembering and the responsibility to remember along with them.

The visitors who enter Mnemomat and consent to the storage and use of their scanned image are first photographed by the machine. Then their face is inserted into a random photograph of an actual event and the machine also adds a random date to the image. The visitors receive a memory in the shape of a photograph and get to keep a newly minted physical reminder of a time and place that never actually existed.

Conceptually, the idea for Mnemomat stems from the examination of the influence of photographs on memory, the theory of false memories and the changing and formation of memories in relation to the personal and the collective. In the context of the epidemic, Mnemomat lays bare the fragile nature of memory in an even simpler and more direct manner. Isolation, loneliness, bans on socializing – circumstances that prevent memories from really anchoring themselves in actual everyday collective events reveal one of the main

sources of memories: experiencing a community and spending time within a community. Mnemomat creates memories, but also fills a gap left behind by all the things that perhaps should have happened and never did.

Text from: Mnemomat, Dalea Kovačec, Portfolio Showcase, ETC. Magazine, issue 2 / Fever Dream, Spring 2023, 130-137, Ljubljana

The project was produced by Institute 127 and was created in collaboration with Marko Damiš.

Mnemomat: Prototype – β_01.0

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 two years 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.

Due to the lack of production resources, the first edition Mnemomat: Prototype – β_01.0 had its specific do-it-yourself aesthetics and was 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 was a high probability that the Mnemomat in the P74 gallery would stop working – the printer may run out of ink or paper, the system may crash… For these cases, the gallery staff had a strip labeled "Out of order", which irrevocably revealed Mnemomat’s painful inability to actually fill the memory gap we all feel.

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