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Prix 1987 - 2007

ORF Oberösterreich

A Memory Project
Henry W. See

'A Memory Project' began as a quest to build a database which forgets. I initially sought to mimic the way humans forget, elaborating certain rules of forgetfulness, then transposing
these rules into algorithms which could be turned into computer code. Yet as I began this work, I realized that I was in fact setting down the road of artificial intelligence. Knowing that I had not the resources of those who are doing AI research in the grand universities and institutes of the world, I found the project took another course. It became an investigation of memory and forgetfulness, and a look at the way in which the human and the digital mutually influence each other: what happens when humans become models for computers, and then later when computers become models for humans?

Part One investigates memory; Part Two, forgetfulness. As the viewer works his or her way through 'A Memory Project', more and more areas of investigation become apparent, like the layers of an onion being pulled away. The process reverses in Part Two as the system begins 'forgetting' what is available, where the user has been, what she or he has seen. The piece ends with a blank screen and the voice of the guide exclaiming that he doesn't know what is happening. The guide is 'Bob', a cartoon character who speaks to the viewer, gives guidance (sometimes helpful, sometimes not), suggests new places to see, and makes passing comments throughout the visit. What is not remembered is as important as what is remembered. What is not shown is as important as what is shown. What is not said is as important as what is said. Empty space resonates with potential. Interactivity lies within empty space. (Henry W. See)