A perfect memory ?
Tanne van Bree

From the first written words to photography, humans have always relied on using external memory aids to support their personal memory. However, rapid technological development has given rise to forms of artificial memory that endure indefinitely, such as hard drives and the Internet. Tanne van Bree coins the term Digital Hyperthymesia (derived from the term for a rare neuropsychological condition characterized by superior memory) to describe this phenomenon. By researching the emergence of Digital Hyperthymesia, the project anticipates the consequences of indefinite memory on our behavior, identity and perception of time, and aims to reform our cultural perception of memory.

After all, human memory is a duality of remembering and forgetting. This inspired Artificial Ignorance – a computer program that offers a digital equivalent of ‘forgetting’. The program uses photos from someone’s external memory to find visually similar images on the Internet. These new images are saved onto the external memory and serve as ‘memory cues’ to stimulate active remembering as an alternative to the passive display of memories.

Apart from investigating the impact on human memory, the research is also an exploration into designing volatile information or digital forgetting mechanisms. The information design field could thus be challenged to speculate about structural changes in the way we deal with information besides improving methods of visualizing the growing amount of data.

Graduation project, 2014


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