On Media, Memory, History, Responsibility

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DOPLGENGER (Isidora Ilic & Bosko Prostran)

On Media, Memory, History, Responsibility

 

”Despite the efforts of historians, scribes, and all sorts of archivists, the quantity of what is irretrievably lost in the history of society and in the history of individuals is infinitely greater than what can (not) be stored in the archives of memory.”

Giorgio Agamben, “The Time That Remains”

Fragments untitled is an ongoing research project started in 2011. It represents a serial of media fragments addressing “the unforgettable” of the last decades of Yugoslav history constructed by/through TV images. Doplgenger analyzes, deconstructs and appropriates media archival footage, which participated in creating the historical narratives in the period of 1980-2000.

The collapse of Yugoslavia, Yugoslav wars and distorted period of “The Nineties” were collectively experienced through the media. Pervert role of the media was in establishing the souverenty over memory. Constructing the narrative(s) and making the choice over the content of what will be “the history”, the media formed our personal memory of the events. We did not personally experience them; we personally experienced the representation of the events. Thus, our personal yet constructed memory participated in securing the collective memory and the formation of national identity. Our relation to the history was governed by the mass media. Therefore, we participate(d) in the politics behind the representation and the narratives.

Memory is the process by which information is encoded, stored, and retrieved. But the memory, which lies upon the flux and noise of media saturation, must constantly elude. One is incapable of forming a critical stand towards the past in such environment. First of all, we are unable to agree on the choice of the past. We are constantly in the limb, caught in-between images, in denial, in the search for a document, or a monument, a trace of our experience. Experience that as such has never taken a place.

Another approach is needed. Forgetting operates in different terms then conscious memory and cannot be accumulated like knowledge. Agamben argues that “the exigency of the lost does not entail being remembered and commemorated; rather, it entails remaining in us and with us as forgotten, and in this way and only in this way, remaining unforgettable.” [1] Exactly the unforgettable nucleus is what makes each history and tradition, but it cannot be found by restoring to memory what is forgotten. The alternatives are not to forget or remember, to be unaware or become conscious. The unforgettable is remaining faithful to that which having perpetually been forgotten. It demands to remain with us and be possible for us in some manner. To respond to this exigency is the only historical responsibility.

Fragments untitled is a serial of works dealing with the politics of media images that participated in constructing recent Yugoslav histories. The project deconstructs and appropriates those images in order to point at the work of media machinery and the manipulation it undertook. Fragments untitled re-perform the context and environment of media content but now stressing what has previously been made invisible and repressed, what in the media flux has been marginalized and regarded as ephemeral. What is of the special interests to the Fragments untitled is what has stayed uncoded – the surplus of media information. The aim is to mark certain events and pug their representations until they drain and open up to the unforgettable. The unforgettable then could be found in the sensation brought to life by desaturated information. The approach would bring viewers to a state of re-living and reviving the experience. The idea of Fragments untitled is not to change the signifier and representation and thus create a different narrative – a new document or a trace of experience – but rather to address that unforgettable nucleus in us so to experience the potentiality of memory as a reminder rather then remembrance [2].

 

Footnote

[1] Agamben, Giorgio, “The Unforgettable”

[2] Remember: to think of something from the past again; Remind: to make someone think about something again

Reference

Agamben, Giorgio, “The Unforgettable”, http://automatist.net/deptofreading/wiki/pmwiki.php/GiorgioAgamben-TheUnforgettable, 2008, accessed 24.03.2012.

 

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