memory theater

Memory Theater is an interactive sound installation that places a human voice reciting passages describing Giulio Camillo’s Memory Theater, an imagined historical structure dedicated to the art of memory. This narrative is fragmented into clouds of words, phrases and phonemes presented inside an evolving algorithmically generated soundscape that is internally consistent yet often indistinct, like a dream or a fading memory. A video camera analyzes the room for the movement and orientation of the installation’s visitors, whose dynamics drive the evolution of the soundscape. The voice and spoken text remain fragmented and unintelligible while any movement or activity is detected. The collective stillness of the room provides clarity.

Now largely lost to time and obscurity, Giulio Camillo was once one of the most famous minds of the 16th Century. This piece”s title is borrowed from his ambitious project to build an amphitheater full of objects and imagery that would serve as a vast mnemonic repository, and which would facilitate incredible feats of memorization. In fact, Camillo’s Memory Theater was never built, and so exists only in the form of the original architectural plan. In this sense Camillo’s theater is both a literal mapping of mind to form and a figurative portrayal of man’s relationship with the imagined.