The Memory Machine: sound and memory at the British Museum

Parry, Nye and Lane, Cathy (2005) The Memory Machine: sound and memory at the British Museum. Organised Sound, 10 (2) . pp. 141-148. ISSN 1355-7718 [Article] (doi:10.1017/S1355771805000786)


The paper, in the international peer reviewed journal Organised Sound (CUP), documents and discusses a major interactive sound installation for the British Museum's 250th anniversary exhibition Museum of the Mind. The project, with Dr. Cathy Lane of CRiSAP (Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice) at the University of the Arts, forms part of Parry's long term research into representations of history in sonic art, particularly within the museum context.

In The Memory Machine, the use of Oral History materials pioneered in Boomtown (see output 1) is extended to encompass the in-situ creation of an oral history archive by the installation software itself. During the six-month exhibition, reminiscences of over 8000 gallery visitors were gathered, selected and transformed in real time in a generative multi-channel composition heard at the entrance and exits of the space.

The paper presents and evaluates the project in terms of both production and reception, investigating the complex feedback mechanism by which listeners are motivated to contribute through their engagement with the reminiscences of others, developing the notion of musical structure as a metaphor for memory processes and drawing an analogy to the spatial metaphors of the renaissance memory palaces (Yates, 1992).

Other public presentations of this research include invited lectures at Birmingham Conservatoire and Sabanci University Istanbul, a Lansdown Centre lecture tour in London, Paris, Milan, Munich and Dubai, an artist residency at Srishti Media College, Bangalore, and papers at the Oral History Society Conference 2004 and the Cultural Institutions and Digital Technology conference ICHIM03, Paris (proceedings

Extending this research, Parry and Lane subsequently proposed and guest-edited a themed issue of Organised Sound (Vol 11.1) on Sound History and Memory.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Art and Design
Item ID: 482
Depositing User: Repository team
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2008 15:12
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:11

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