As We May Forget (2012)

As We May Forget is an interactive experience addressing threats to the openness of the internet and net neutrality. In the article "As We May Think", Vannevar Bush described a machine for the organization of knowledge. His idea of the Memex accompanied the development of the internet, which today has the potential to make information available to all. As We May Forget is a cyberspace dystopia, a cautionary tale of a broken internet and was inspired by Jorge Luis Borges’ "The Library of Babel".

Full Description

While the user, degraded to being an observer, plunges uncontrollably through the gloomy structures of a virtual library, only vaguely guessing what information and contents the daunting architecture hides inaccessibly behind heavy bars, he is supposed to become aware of how great the significance of topics like openness, net neutrality, and transparency is in view of the immense potential that the internet opens up to us with respect to scientific, cultural, and social development. Background sounds, architecture and interactions were careflully coordinated–the creative focus of the cyberspace dystopia, which is more interactive experience than game, was on creating the densest, most constricting atmosphere possible. During the original exhibition in Stuttgart visitors could experience the work standing in front of a large stereo 3D display, which was mounted in a cramped, darkened box in order to further amplify the sense of initimidation and constriction.

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Artist Statement

The bachelor's project work As We May Forget is comprised of a theoretical and an interactive part, both examining the legacy of the analog computer and hypermedia visionary Vannevar Bush. Both refer to the article "As We May Think", in which Bush described the memex in the 1940s as a personal, automated library with an associative referential structure. The theoretical part of the work looks back at the circumstances under which Bush conceived his idea of the scientific workplace of the twentieth century, following traces of possible connections between his engagement in the context of the Manhattan Project (and generally his role in the early history of the military-industrial complex) and various aspects of the memex, in order to construct lines of flight into the present and the near future. How do we think, remember and forget in the information age? What are the challenges developers, designers and users are (and will be) facing? What threatens the internet as a space of free exchange of cultural and scientifc knowledge today? The theory is supplemented by an interactive 3D work which deals with the dystopian idea of a dysfunctional internet of the future and was inspired by Jorge Luis Borges' "La biblioteca de babel".

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