Magnetic-core Memories (2012)
Meta 2012, Airship 37 - Toronto, ON
James St. Supercrawl, The Brain - Hamilton, ON
Magnetic-core Memories is a machine-driven performance piece centered around a 1950's era robot whose memory was erased in an attempt to neutralize its perceived technological power. For decades it has been attempting to recreate those lost memories and its own identity through a magnetic pseudoscientific process. The memory is physically represented by ferrofluid (a magnetic liquid) in the bottom of a tank of water which serves as the robot's brain. A grid of electromagnets behind the brain pull the memory fluid through the tank in a choreographed sequence. The fluid separates and reconnects but eventually the system fails. The cycle repeats after one minute, but the memory recreation sequence never succeeds.
The piece explores the tangibility of both technological and biological memory. Not only are magnetic processes used in computer memory, but recent studies also suggest that magnetics could potentially be used to resurface forgotten memories from the human brain. These memories are vital to the entire human experience, as everything a person knows exists within the confines of personal memory. While these memories are seemingly intangible, they are able to define, shape and create everything we know and understand. In a world where a machine could quantify, create or recreate memory, the effect on everyday decision-making would be undeniably profound. Magnetic-core Memories brings these notions to the forefront of the viewer's mind and asks them to question the memories they take for granted.
The 1950's aesthetic harkens back to the era of science fiction film, a genre which was perceived as being purely for entertainment and was never considered a high art. Despite the lowbrow status of these films, they are now highly regarded today for reflecting humanity's technological anxieties surrounding major advancements in both nuclear and magnetic technology. Similar to the science fiction films of the past, Magnetic-core Memories not only entertains the audience with a choreographed spectacle but also offers a reflection of today's technological fears brought upon by social networking which has completely changed the way humans share their experiences and memories with each other.
Magnetic-core Memories allows the audience to explore the theme of tangible memory in real time and space. Through the use of a 1950's aesthetic and the narrativeʼs magnetic pseudoscientific process, the notion of fact vs. fiction is blended with that of memory. With the robot caught in a never-ending cycle, the viewer has a chance to reflect upon the tangibility of their own memories and question why they are willing to accept them as undeniable fact.