Thesis, Week 1

Thesis Statement/Question

We are all a series of layered experiences, tempered by learning: our memories.

There is a saying: You only truly die when someone says your name for the last time. This is a conceit: We are what people remember of us.

What happens when our memories dissipate?

The memories of alzheimer’s patients, which are to say their personal identities, deteriorate in real time. But those that surround them still remember them, so their legacy is -at the moment- in tact.

But what about when we’re all gone? Digitally we’ll live on, taking up less and less space in the digital landscape. But that legacy, no longer in our control, can evolve and shift in unpredictable ways.

I’m interested in exploring the link between memory -personal and projected- and identity. More specifically, I’m interested in exploring digital posterity -what digital representations of who we were might look like 100 years from now.

The question I would like to answer confronts the discrepancy between memory, identity, and the accuracy of a digital legacy that can shift long after we are gone. Ideally, this will culminate in a mixed-media experience of personal deteriorating identity through various inputs and manifestations.

Project Dream Review

Newcomer Lindsey Piscitell took the art world by storm with the opening of her first solo exhibition Infinite Loop at the David Zwirner Gallery this past Thursday. Piscitell, a virtual unknown prior to the debut of Loop, has made an indelible mark on a willing audience by thoughtfully examining the complex relationship between feminine identity, digital posterity, and the failure of freeform and architected memory.

Using a variety of forms, including video, sound and light sculpture, Piscitell posits that we must account for the identities we craft for ourselves while we still have agency, in preparation and even anticipation of the multiple identities that will represent us well into the future, thousands of years past when human forms might still exist, or when we might have control over them.

Mildly dystopian but quietly beautiful, Infinite Loop is an ambitious undertaking that is meditative while avoiding pendanticism, is wary without being cynical.  It is a must see for a generation that has more individual agency than ever before, but remains plagued by anxiety and uncertainty. While Infinite Loop might not hold all of the answers -indeed it doesn’t seem to be her intention to provide them- Piscitell offers something deeply comforting in our disjointed, dissociative realities: a moment of collective catharsis.

Research Plan

Research to date?

My research to date is basically cultivating a reading list, and I am casting a wide net:

A series of articles in the FT about alzheimer’s disease.

Research published in the New York Times about how psychotropics can aid those suffering from terminal illness in confronting death.

Reviewing the work of Denise Duhamel, particularly her Moibus strip poem Forgetfulness.

Reading about moibus strips.

Reading about looping mechanisms in general.

Examining the symptoms of alzheimer’s patients and how they loop.

Breaking patterns in behavior; reading on patterned behavior in general.

I’m also working on physical iterations in my 100 Days of Making class that might aid the form factors of my project.


What else is out there like it?

The work of Pipilotti Rist takes on some of the forms I’d like to emmenate.

Yayoi Kusama confronts the afterlife in very accessible but nonetheless beautiful ways.

Everyone has told me to look at GBC’s Hereafter Institute.

Es Devlin is an inspiration for anyone that wants to build.

Julian Rosefeldt’s Manifesto is inspiring from a performative standpoint, and also in terms of converging narrative.

How is yours different?

I’m not necessarily looking to commodify my output and I’m not sure that this will be a performative piece. It might also be interactive and it might not be. Frankly, the idea is not fully formed enough to cite its similarities and differences.

How does it improve what exists?

I’m looking to capture some of the zeitgeist and also make it a more personal, tailored experience for each viewer. (This is of course  true of all art to the extent that our interpretations are subject to our infinitely unique experiences as humans, but in this instance I’m speaking of a literal physical input/output mechanism that would change for each viewer, possibly).

What audience is it for?

Anyone who’s encountered an existential crisis; anyone who feels uncertain about the future, confronting death; anyone who is concerned by perceived memory/identity and objective identity/memory.

What is the world/context/ market that your project lives in?

It could be an installation but it could also live as a website with input/output mechanisms. For me it is very important to make something physical, so even if that were the case, it would never be a website alone.

In your initial research, have you found something you didn’t expect?

The stages are too preliminary to be able to answer that question. I am still searching for a rabbit hole.

Is it an interesting path to follow?

All of this is fascinating to the point of being completely overwhelming for me.

What do you need to know about the content/story?

I need to understand what I think, and pursue it. Right now, it’s all still very lumpy and uneligant.

What do you need from a tech standpoint?

Video and sound recordings, fabrications, light sculpture.

If it’s too much for the time.. Are there any discrete parts of it you could accomplish?

Maybe it’ll just be one of the above. I need to find the rabbit hole to get specific.