Remember These Things: background
Boston Public Library
Not simply repositories for racks of information, libraries, particularly public ones, have been built as veritable cathedrals of knowledge, fulfilling a deep human need for learning and providing necessary common space for study. With the library as temple, learning becomes a state of grace, accessible to all. Understanding that our lives are now being transformed in profound ways by the speed, ease and fluidity of electronic media, books are increasingly seen as mere conduits of information, devoid of context. When we consider books first as objects or artifacts of history, they become portals through which we observe our forbears and decipher their perspective within a deeper frame of reference.
The Penny Cyclopedia of 1842 with added Charles Meynier painting of Clio as a frontispiece
Combining original drawings and quotes with historical prints and appropriated photographs on a backdrop of dictionary wallpaper, Kara Hammond’s installation, “Remember These Things”, is a response to the ongoing revolution in information technology. Exploring ideas about the meaning of libraries in relation to knowledge, the work juxtaposes ink wash images of hard boiled detectives “seeking information” with photographs of information storage from the past to the present.
Illustration of NY Public Library Stacks and a “Cloud Server”
With “disruptive technology” the current buzzword, questions arise about the adoption of powerful technologies where the promise and the outcome are often quite different, as when we trade durability and dependability for convenience and speed. Time is an important element in this exploration of information technology. If time does indeed ‘devour all things’, what to make of technology’s promise to remember everything for us? We may soon find ourselves in a world oddly misremembered or blissfully ignorant of the past.
War Department records in the White House garage
Keeping information is a constant challenge. We possess fantastic tools to locate, store and synthesize information, but these tools can easily become a trap, ends in themselves. Developing the discernment for sorting and editing becomes increasingly necessary. How much of this important work can we delegate to machines? What sort of future will we make with it?
Will time ultimately devour it all?
Alexander Leydenfrost, “March of Science”
The Drawings: click on an image to expand.
“tempus edux rerum” Time devours all things.