Thursday, March 25, 2010

Blog #7: Immemory [S03]

The entire concept of the “Immemory” program spoke to a close relationship between media and memory. Chris Marker constructs memories for his users/viewers – often his own memories but sometimes broader cultural memories –through a variety of aesthetics and media including photographs, digital imaging, cinema and text. What I found particularly interesting was the presence of this last medium, text, as a crucial part of constructing and contextualizing these other media memories.

There is a brief section in “Immemory” about the “madeleine,” an involuntary trigger of memory that seems to mostly involve the senses – a sight, a sound, a smell, etc., can all serve as these “madeleines.” What I found particularly interesting was that “Immemory” could not really find a way to fully commit to the madeleine – almost every memory it propounded required some sort of contextualization. As Walter Benjamin says in “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” “Will not captions become the essential component of pictures?” I thought “Immemory” did an excellent job of presenting a wide array of provocative images, some of which did (for me) serve as madeleines [e.g. the “Vertigo” segment], but at the same time, the constant use of text to gloss and contextualize these media struck me as undermining the intriguing possibility of media as not only individual memories, but also as collective, cultural memories that are not necessarily specific to a particular individual. I left the lab on Tuesday wondering, what is it about the text, in any form, that allows it to present information in ways that other media seemingly cannot?

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