These are globally unstable times where a market economy and mass-produced objects rule our lives. We live in a highly mediated society where the online world is arguably replacing a more authentic, meaningful, and tactile one. We race from one place to the next, looking downwards at a device that is increasingly attached to our hand, and that dominates our interactions with our environment and each other. We acquire ubiquitous objects to validate our existence. We indiscriminately take, upload and share photos to create memories of ideal experiences, presenting our life as we want it perceived. And, we're supposedly more connected than ever. Whatever way we choose to look at it, our personal histories are highly curated for all to see and, for many of us, we no longer have to remember—social media has become a repository for our memories and even reminds us of past milestones.
Within this global social framework, people are accumulating and sharing more images than ever; photos that build narratives and map our stories. Instead of committing these to memory, images—of people, places, and events—are recalled from social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. It's as though these online systems are replacing our need to exercise and access our memory. We now rely on these digital archives to store, reflect, and recall personal timelines to keep our experiences in order and to group our memories, reminding us of significant days/people/places as memorable dates come and go. These public spaces are becoming "memory palaces"—places to put our memories that we hope to revisit and recall sometime in the future.
The idea that external devices are replacing the human mind as a place for retention and retrieval of memories, presents an exciting space of enquiry. Memory Palaces are typically systems developed in a person's mind—creating patterns, associations or ideas—to help recall things by placing the memories in a familiar space in a particular order. With the advent of camera phones, social media platforms and the "just Google it" phenomenon, we're arguably less reliant on our intellect as we move toward accessing external technological systems to store, locate and recall information.
Starting 1 January 2018, Sim began a new and immersive time-based project, which will be the first of ten yearlong projects that will span the next decade from 2018 to 2028. The project will investigate the idea of creating yearlong series' of external "Memory Palaces" by taking an image each day in chronological order that will inform collections of jewellery and objects that will attempt to place and connect the memories in familiar spaces, in a particular order.
Sim will begin by taking an image on her camera phone each day that she will save, upload, number, title, and archive digitally in chronological order on her computer. She will then start to respond to the online images by creating intimate jewellery and objects that will exist in the world as miniature collections reflecting the daily repose. These will relate to the digital photos and will connect to the body in some way.
The goal is to create ten connected yet idiosyncratic digital and object-based “Memory Palaces” that will have a public outcome in a different gallery space in Victoria (TBC) each year and, upon completion, will culminate in all ten collections presented together in an immersive exhibition in 2029.
Sim's art practice plots a course across time, examining notions of ritual, personal authenticity, and materiality: her work is grounded in daily habit and process.
She creates frameworks to allow optimal creative freedom within a defined space. There is a significant time and financial commitment made when she initiates each project. The parameters are carefully planned and set in advance, and the collections are adequately resourced throughout the year so ideas can flow freely and so objects can be created without disruption. This framework will help create a conducive space to take risks and meet her self-regulated obligations—both conceptually and practically.
Memory Palace takes Sim's time-based explorations to a new and ambitious level. The first memory palace that will be created in the series began on 1 January 2018, and launches almost ten years since embarking on her first yearlong daily art project.
In 2008, she began time-based investigations that attempted to find meaning and deeper connections in the everyday. The first, The Temporary Nature of Things (2008) idealistically looked for beauty in the everyday, distilling daily observations into 366 jewellery pieces and artist books. The second, These Moments Existed (2013) explored ideas of ambivalence. The third, It's Always Darkest Just Before Dawn (2015) pursued the creation of authentic representations – image (instinct) Vs object (intellect). The fourth instalment, Momentarily Here (2017), searched for meaning in ubiquitous everyday moments.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
The ten daily art projects sitting under the umbrella series Memory Palace will vary from year to year, culminating in an installation of photos and jewellery that explore Sim's lived experience over a decade of her life. This will evolve as she creates her own disinctive collections informed by her lived experience, as she embarks on defining her own creative habit.
THOUGHTS INFORMING THE WORK
What drives us
The small things in life
Noticing the things that might otherwise go unnoticed
Attempting to find the beauty and poetry in the everyday
Perception of beauty, fragility and the temporality of life
Time (beginning, current, and end)
Everyday reactions and emotions
Routine, repetition and failure
Each photo must be initiated (identified, researched, conceived, taken, numbered and titled) that day and cannot extend into the next
Each photo will be taken assuming it will be seen at the scale of an iPhone
There will be no selfies and posing for photos
Each photo will be miniature, creating an intimacy that relates back to the body
Each photo is labelled with the number of the day in the year, date it was taken, titled and tagged by midnight that day
Each photo will be uploaded and stored on social media in black and white
Each photo's original file (colour, high-res) and social media file (greyscale, low res) will be stored on the computer and in the cloud
Each month, a collection of objects will be made in response to the photos taken
If I identify a ‘crutch’, I analyse and adjust the project as I go
The colour scheme of final work will be predominantly monochromatic grey scale
I must keep asking questions, challenge myself, and reflect on criticism
What drives us?
Does this intervention reveal something of the human condition?
Why make when there is so much in the world already?
What is worth making time for—what is important?
As a human, how do I make sense of my life?
What would we do differently if we could go back?
What can we do differently moving forward?
Would we change anything?
Would it make a difference?
"A Memory Palace is an imaginary location in your mind where you can store mnemonic images. The most common type of memory palace involves making a journey through a place you know well, like a building or town. Along that journey there are specific locations that you always visit in the same order." - Wikipedia, 7 November, 2017
"The human condition is "the characteristics, key events, and situations which compose the essentials of human existence, such as birth, growth, emotionality, aspiration, conflict, and mortality." - Wikipedia, 12 December, 2017
Temporary, momentary, fleeting, impermanent, ephemeral, brief, passing, instant, transient, nature, essence, landscape, aspect, idiosyncrasy, tone, begetting, poetry, objects, language, echo, time, connection, repetition, mnemonic, corporeality, tangible, systematic, anthropology, cultural, relic, mapping, marker, past, moment, memory, repose, banal, mimick, material, continuum, human, metaphore, etymology, origin, remains, aesthetics, future, habit, mark, micro, macro, rhythm, encounter, metal, alchemy, miniature, ritual, memento mori, repository, archive, signifier, cipher, representation, symbol, acuity, deliberation, beauty, truth, longing, desire, fragility, history, mimesis.
Tim McCreight (2005) Syntax of Objects. Brynmorgen Press, Portland, Maine.
"Objects are permitted inside our veil of privacy, which makes them intimate, precious, private, and possibly obscene." (p10)
"The objects of our public life are part of our social language." (p10)
"Objects acquire power through ownership or, in some cases, even contact." (p12)
"We learned that objects mark time in a unique way." (p12)
"The objects we make are given the shapes we give them because of where we are in time." (p22)
Crispin Sartwell, (2004) Six Names of Beauty. Routledge Taylor and Francis Group, London and New York.
"In craft, means and ends become intertwined so that the process itself by which the crafted object is made is experienced as an end: the process itself is beautiful, like a dance." (p8)
Earl Pardon, 1980
"In nature and its awesome wonderment, I find this equally true – a growth of moss can be significantly more significant a forest; a singular stone can be more interesting than a mountain."
Susan Stewart (1993) On Longing. Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection. Duke University Press, USA.
"The transcendence presented by the miniature is a special transcendence, a transcendence which erases the productive possibilities of understanding through time. Its locus is thereby the nostalgic." (p60)
Tim Mather, Ceramicist, USA
"What we hold in common gives meaning to our uniqueness, as well as a platform from which to compare and understand that unique vision of what it means to be human."
"The work of a true artist bestows on his material an inward and eternal value."
Bachelard, Gaston (1994 Ed.) The Poetics of Space. The Classic Look at How We Experience Intimate Spaces. Beacon Press. Boston, USA.
McCreight, Tim (2005) The Syntax of Objects. Brynmorgen Press, Maine, USA.
Stewart, Susan (1993) On Longing. Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection. Duke University Press. Durham, USA.
Tharp, Twyla (2003) The Creative Habit. Learn it and use it for life. Simon & Schuster. New York City, USA.
MEMORY PALACE 2019
MEMORY PALACE // MOMENT IN TIME // 1. 1 JAN 2019: Ordinary
YEAR 1: MEMORY PALACE
MOMENT IN TIME
1 JANUARY - 31 DECEMBER 2019
I can barely conceive of a type of beauty in which there is no Melancholy. - Charles Baudelaire
MEMORY PALACE // MOMENT IN TIME // 3. 3 JAN 2019: Melbourne streets
MEMORY PALACE // MOMENT IN TIME // 4. 4 JAN 2019: Northcote
MEMORY PALACE // MOMENT IN TIME // 5. 5 JAN 2019: The quiet of home
MEMORY PALACE // MOMENT IN TIME // 6. 6 JAN 2019: Savouring the last night of freedom
Mass production and the ubiquitous uploading of images creates endless clutter and visual noise in the physical and digital world. This project is a conscious intervention that aims to quietly pause, connect, document, and reflect ordinary daily moments. By doing so, Sim will imbue personal meaning into the images and objects, tracing time and revealing aspects of the human condition. The exploration will result in ten yearlong series' of images that will inform the creation of ten collections of handmade objects. The final presentation will culminate in idiosyncratic and tangible 'memory palaces' that span one decade of one person's lived moments in time.
MEMORY PALACE // MOMENT IN TIME // 7. 7 JAN 2019: To and from work
MEMORY PALACE // MOMENT IN TIME // 2. 2 JAN 2019: Ordinary suburban sunset
'Memory Palace' is a contemporary multi-disciplinary, time-based project by Sim Luttin that explores the significance of capturing moments and making art objects when we live in a complex, globalised time.