'Memory Palace Thanet' by Anna Skutley and Umut Gunduz
Part of a new series of digital artworks from Turner Contemporary, commissioned in response to the Covid-19 Pandemic. ‘Memory Palace Thanet’ is a video game which aims to connect communities through memory.
‘Memory Palace Thanet’ is conceived as a tool for connecting community members; for capturing and consciously memorialising the present in hopes of protecting the future. So, ‘Memory Palace Thanet’ is a mnemonic device, a means to help us remember.’
Commissioned by Turner Contemporary as part of the Digital Commission series, ‘Memory Palace Thanet’ is an ongoing project which uses video game technology to build its own virtual archive of things to remember. Through it, Thanet residents are invited to digitise, document and memorialise personal objects as artefacts, which act as placeholders for memories. These artefacts are arranged in a 3D environment where visitors can navigate and sieve through a growing collection of things deemed important for creating a digital archaeology of contemporary Thanet. ‘Memory Palace Thanet’ is developed in collaboration with Travayne Burrows (Blasé Games). The musical score and soundscape are custom made by Francesca Ter-Berg.
“Because imagination is memory in the future tense” — Abby Smith Rumsey, When We are No More
As Umut and Anna began creating ‘Memory Palace Thanet’ during a period of national lockdown, they asked Thanet residents to submit their artefacts remotely (this meant sending a photograph of an object or describing a memory in words). They were able to meet with some residents outside to create 3D models of artefacts using photogrammetry software. Later, they embedded these contributions into the ‘Memory Palace Thanet’ gaming environment, which they built using 3D modelling and their own photoscanned memories. Spread throughout this landscape, visitors will find 3D generated crystals that, when activated by the visitor’s proximity, reveal a piece of a ‘memory path’.
‘Memory Palace Thanet’ is server-based – which has allowed its builders to synchronise the time in the game world with Greenwich Mean Time. This also means that multiple users can visit ‘Memory Palace Thanet’ together. Each visitor spawns into the game world with an avatar in the form of a ball of light. Try visiting with your friends for sunset.
“Our collective practice uses language theory, gaming and 3D technologies to explore ideas of assemblage, mapping and the digital archive. As the world becomes more aligned with technological advancement, we want to use our practice to propose computer-based technology as a toolset imbued with human emotion and ethics.” – Anna Skutley and Umut Gunduz
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