Life – an instruction manual? – The Wayback Machine

An artistic research project based on the novel “La vie mode d’emploi (1978) by Georges Perec

Memories Stories
Already, the crisis triggered by the pandemic in many areas of society has burned itself into our collective memory with metaphors, instagram stories, sounds and new technologies. Against this current social background, the research project is concerned with the investigation of individual patterns of perception of historical events, collective memories and narratives of personally experienced moments of tipping over. We are interested in how historical facts become an individual reality and what creative, subversive and poetic potential is revealed in shifts resulting from the multiple repetition of narratives:
How do memories ultimately develop into narratives and “who speaks” in them?
Can new insights be gained by linking events and narratives?
Can we develop impulses for a critical different way of thinking about collective memories of society as a whole by exploring our own narratives?

From remembering to rethinking
The starting point of the research project is artistic research on a specific date, starting from a historical event that has triggered a turning point in the biography of one of the six collective members. The primary source for this is the systematic questioning of the environment. In addition, we make use of archives with eyewitness accounts, sound and image recordings and the estate of G. Perec. For an online research we use the wayback machine of the internet. An example of an anniversary is January 28th: In 1986 the Challenger accident happened in front of running cameras – the invention of the term ‘serendipity’ (1754) falls on the same anniversary. It is also the principle of serendipity – making a chance discovery in search of something completely different – which will inevitably be the theme of the research for this date. Other starting dates would be: 26 April (1986), 9 March (2000), 27 June (2000), 17 December (2010) and 23 June (2016). The resulting collection of personal stories will lead to a new archive of memories.

In the novel “La vie mode d’emploi”, analogous to our data examined over the years, a Parisian apartment building is described in which various tenants work under one roof. In the course of the 99 chapters, the traces of an art project, which in the end was to leave no trace behind, cross over from room to room. We venture an experiment and start research work in six different cities under the roof of the collective The Navidsons. In a further step of the research, we will subject our archives to a collective, creative process of ‘recollection’ by means of a postal exchange of letters, which combines rewriting, rewriting, overwriting, chain letter compositions as well as images, comments etc. The aim is to recreate the cross-relationships and the ‘in-between’ of our data and knowledge in an installative music theatre performance out of this network as a multi-sensorially materialised and accessible space of experience: A trans-historical journey through time, an event score, an atlas of our network.

Concept: Maxine Devaud, Maria Huber, Ole Hübner, Michael Taylor, Tassilo Tesche, Till Wyler von Ballmoos

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