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Re: <eyebeam><blast> the museological and the urban

It's great to see both Lygia Clark and Frances Yates come up in this
discussion of a possible urban museum. Lygia Clark because her
"relational objects" (I believe she also called them "trans-objects")
were conceived as vectors for intersubjective experience. A performance
with these objects wasn't just a display of plastic form or an
expression of underlying individuality, but the elaboration of a new
human encounter mediated by objects which are material, tangible,
mortal, and yet also symbolic, carrying relatively specific social,
emotional and sexual valences. To use the objects is to further
elaborate not only the history of art, but the larger history of
collective undertakings with all their difficult material determinations
- a history which, as Carlos suggests, is ultimately that of the urban,
of lives built, torn apart and rebuilt together. 

Some kind of mnemonic technique is needed for such an elaboration of
life-in-common, thus the great interest of Frances Yates' book on the
ancient arts of memory. What's interesting there is the technique: the
association in one's mind of the images of specific places - palaces,
rooms, streets, theaters - with important bits of knowledge and
narrative sequences. The idea was to select an architectural
environment, often one with niches, and to use it literally as a
"topos," a palpable place in which to organize a more far-ranging
cultural memory. It was a self-fashioning technique, or what Foucault
calls a process of subjectivation, intimately connected to the
collective dimension of experience because of the use of architecture as
a mnemonic support, but at the same time, seemingly a much more fluid
and personal way to build one's self than by subjection to the tightly
delimited structure of the authorized book (which ultimately replaced
the ars memoria as the primary technique of self-fashioning in bourgeois
Western cultures).

The relation between determinate urban space and a fluid
individual-collective use of memory is something that surges up with
every social revolution, when artistic practice really gets out into the
streets. But while working toward the next upsurge, I'm wondering how
computer memory could be used to further such individual-collective
self-fashioning processes - in experiments which at once recognize the
binding weight of historical reality and yet aim toward material and
symbolic transformation of it? The best example I have so far is Chris
Marker's CD Rom IMMEMORY, which is constructed as what you might call a
photo-text "mnemotopy," dividing one individual's filmically recorded
memory of twentieth-century history into zones whose interconnections
can be explored and appropriated by the viewer. The zones are based
largely on historical geography (that's because Marker went all over the
planet, particularly during the period of decolonization). But the
memory places are also media zones and institutional zones (the cinema,
the museum). So the CD is at once an autobiography and a miniature,
dispersive archive of post-colonial cultural experience. Not as good as
a revolution, but a reminder of what can be at stake in one. There must
be many more such artistic experiments with the possibilities of
computer memory, and I'd love to hear about them, if anyone has any

Brian Holmes
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