Cem/project proposal

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drafts here

I want to make an installation that questions the construction of identity through memory and collective memory, consisting of series of still images, moving images, and spatial images (3D, like a statue) where they can act together. I want to form pieces out of pieces, a photographic image created out of discarded film negatives, a video collage out of found footage of mass media images, a sculptural image out of my medical waste objects that I collect, aiming to construct a piece out of the deconstructed pieces that would be questioning the formation of our memories and how they structure the identity on the individual and collective level. While the first two are deeply connected to the idea of collective memory, especially in relation to space, the third one is mainly about singular and personal instances.

I want to design the space for the works in a such manner that it would evoke the feeling of home, something that is familiar, maybe a reproduction of a certain set that everybody is familiar with (Central Perk café in the series Friends would be an example- but just an example)

Why? The formation of identity goes hand in hand with construction of the memory. I believe this construction happens on different levels, personal and social. I want to create works that represent different versions of this phenomenon.

On the personal level, I consider my diabetes as something that defines me, and the experience I have with certain objects are very intimate. The needles that pierced my body- that were under my skin for some time- contain my biological information on them. These objects are manufactured to be used once and only once, never to be used again. What I aim to do, in Flusser’s terms, is to change their role as tool objects memory objects. In this way, they become monuments of information, representing both the object memory and my identity.

On the social level, the mass media images that we are exposed to create a certain collective memory that defines our world, and in the long run also our history. The media images (of TV and the Internet) affect each individual in a pre-determined way, and as the collection of personal memories constitutes the collective, the mass media holds the power of creating the history of humanity. The existence of the digital archive of media images as an electronic memory affects the oral history, and now it determines what we call the truth. As the electronic memory will seem to be more credible, what belongs in that domain will be our truth. The individual memory will become less and less significant, until the point that it becomes the same thing with the collective memory. Who decides what will be included and what won’t in our history?

I see the making of a collage image with the discarded film negatives as a combination of the social and personal aspect of memory construction. These negatives that are left behind contain information of very personal value, personal memories, but a collection of personal and singular elements result in a social and multifaceted formation, what we call the collective. Through my agency these images will go through a transformation from the individual to the collective.

For the photographic collage I aim to work with discarded film negatives that I collect from certain locations: photography studios/shops, the WDKA darkroom, flea markets, online mediums and so on. I think the choice of the places that the images are collected from is significant in context of the final photographic image I will create. After a process of analyzing images and deconstructing them to its elements, I am going to do analog prints of selected photographs in the darkroom and create a new photographic image out of them.

For the moving image collage, I am considering possibly a VR environment, a virtual atmosphere of a hexagonal structure, with a screen at each side that will have fast paced, constantly changing clips of video images from the mass media, each screen designated to a certain characteristic (political, pop culture, funny videos, celebrities etc. -to be decided); reenacting our daily exposure as an immersive experience.

For the 3D collage image, using the my medical waste that I have been saving for the past months, I am thinking of making a life mask, covered with the needles, or perhaps more of a gridded structure, but a piece in which the parts that constitute the whole are perfectly visible, and recognizable.

For the timetable, I’ll be prototyping and discovering the options for each case. September – November 9: prototyping different ideas, to see if the representation in three different mediums works together coherently. Decide accordingly to keep working with different elements (of still image, video image and spatial image) or to make a singular video piece. (Note to Steve: I want to discuss the idea of artwork as something that is “read” and artwork as something that is “experienced”) November 9 - January: Depending on the outcome of the previous step, start working on the production of the work, collection of images for still/moving work. Learn to use the software (Unity) for VR, and other technical knowledge required for the production of the artwork(s). From January: tbd

I would be getting help from several different people: Steve and Marloes for the formation of the project, Javi and/or Brigitte from the Interaction Station, fellow students (especially Felix since he is becoming an assistant in the interaction station and since he already worked with Unity), tutors (with their feedback), everyone (inside and outside of NL) who would be willing to share their experiences about the past/their past and their recollection of it. The relevance of the project to the previous year would be the darkroom printing process, which has a direct relation to the indexical attributes of the photographic image: using the film negative (an indexical object in terms of the light leaving a trace on the light sensitive material, offspring of optics and chemistry) to create a printed image (actually the repetition of the previous step with different material; subject becomes the film negative and the film negative becomes the light-sensitive paper) with my interventions between these two steps that takes place through the transfer of the photographic image to a new surface which creates a third meaning, a new set of information, a new trace.

In the video piece I made for the Eye ResearchLabs I was working with the concept of recollection of a memory, and the general idea was based on the fact that we reconstruct our memory each time we remember a past event, and therefore we forget each memory as we remember them. I believe the video had a very direct way of narrating the idea, this time my aim is to keep it more abstract; my aim with the video is to make more of an immersive experience. The subjects that we covered in the annotated reader we created with Mia, Felix, Sonia and Andy are deeply connected to the work I want to do, especially notions that Flusser introduces in his book “Towards a Philosophy of Photography” such as the distribution of images, ‘the photographic universe’ and ‘technical images’ form a good basis for the research I want to make. His other writings about the significance of screens as surfaces (surfaces as something to be read, something that is scanned to be analyzed) are also connected to the idea I am aiming to investigate.

While I was doing my research on the memory and the collective memory, I have seen that what we call individual memory is merely created by the collective experiences, therefore in the most basic sense it can be said that all our memories belong to the collective. The memory is shaped by the independent agents around us, and it can be foreseen that it can be easily manipulated, and reconstructed. I am interested in the different ways our memory is constantly being reconstructed, with the images we are constantly exposed to through mass media, mainly the TV and the Internet, as the primary sources of the images (especially moving) about the world that surrounds us. Often, the choice of images are determined (in terms of the content and the aesthetics) by an institution of power, be it the government, a news agency, the media bosses etc. All the choices that are made from the recording of the image to the distribution of the image always contain a political influence. I want to discover these influences that shape our memory, and show what is also happening in my country, in the present, in the actual.

Flusser, V. (1983) Towards a Philosophy of Photography, London: Reaktion Books

Flusser, V. (1990). On Memory (Electronic or Otherwise). Leonardo, 23(4), p.397.

Halbwachs, M. and Coser, L. (n.d.). On collective memory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Vilem Flusser (several works including “towards a philosophy of photography” and his writings about screens, memory, lines and surfaces) Douwe Draaisma, Maurice Halbwachs, Carl Jung, Emile Durkheim Margaret Iversen – Photography Trace and Trauma