In the introduction to his 2008 performance and lecture Continuous Partial Awareness, the artist Cory Arcangel claims that he lost his memory.

Well – actually, it wasn’t that he “lost” his memory – the memories, he explains, were still there in his mind – somewhere.

Rather, he lost the ability to retrieve these memories. The best approximation for this was, according to Arcangel, “like being really lazy” – one knows that the memories are there somewhere, but the effort to search them down becomes such an incredibly laborious task, that one might as well have actually lost them.

Now, memory loss such as Arcangel experienced comes with consequences.

One’s reliance on technology to manage one’s everyday experience increases.

Arcangel’s case was no exception. The creative process, for instance, undergoes a mutation: if one is struck by an idea for a project, one must record the idea through the use of some form of technology or risk losing it altogether.

Now, this technology could be anything – from pen and paper to an e-mail composed to one’s self – it doesn’t matter; just so long as the ideas are recorded somehow and slipped into a database.

What Arcangel realized, though, was that this externalization went beyond mere utility – it took on a life of its own. The juxtapositions of the ideas in his database created a sort of surrealism that became at least as intriguing as the individual ideas, themselves.

The more he fed the database in the hopes of remembering something, the more the database developed its own unique hunger – an evolving aesthetic form demanding a certain amount of tender loving care which would, in turn, dictate the type of ideas that Arcangel was compelled to remember in the first place.

After a while it becomes unclear whether or not he is recording his memories or creating a world.

Perhaps it’s both.

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