the past in your hand

The past cannot remain simply as textual analysis; the city’s containment of it’s past, as disseminated Calvino; Cities, like history, do not reveal themselves. They contain their past like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, I am exploring aspects of the visual interpretation of the past in the physical landscape of the built environment. How can memory be reconstructed, how do we expose the past seen in flickering street lights in the rain? How can we curate an experience of a past we have never lived? to construct a monument to an atrocity which we can only have experience of through other peoples narrations of their memories? How can the past be raised in such a way we can progress forwards, grasping in muddy hands the gem which may be contained within it?

The past is a malleable and fluid entity; faceted by a textured plethora of multiple narratives which compete and confuse. My research as to the curation of the Troubles in Northern Ireland and the residues of Nazi atrocity have enabled me to conclude to the seminal importance of the role of memory from those who inhabit cities to how far the past is socially able to manifest in the built environment. Yet how can this allowed to be be passed on? through performance, through text, through image? This then raises the question as to how far subjective construction in the arts can successfully enable a sense of history to be relived or simply presented… how can such re-presentation allow an experience to enter into the realm of a social dynamic?

Memorial can be constructed; typographies of remembrance can be inscribed over fragments of forgotten traces; yet such objectification of the past cannot culturally and socially resonate to urban citizens if they lack intellectual and emotional awareness towards the past which such inscriptions hold. The city naturally resonates a temporal and distant past through the very means by which it is constructed yet interventions, formal or informal create a level of empathy which the landscape alone may not curate.

The nuance of human occupation and intervention in the built environment resonates to a profound level if the viewer has a cultural awareness as to the significance of such action.

The past is an all consuming organism; which left uncontrolled; unmediated and unremembered will manifest; even in hushed voices behind closed doors.

The city becomes a larger vessel to the past simply because of the sheer weight of overlapping significant and anecdotal pasts which overlap in a symphony in the various enclaves for encounter which fashion themselves as the city. Memory can become a cultural vessel or lumbering weight towards the notion of urban progress; how the past is enabled or forcibly wills itself to manifest metamorphoses the sentiments of collective and personal emotions sensitivities towards the past.

~ by beatricejarvis on November 12, 2010.

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