The Sound of Forgetting: an introduction to our process

by May 16, 2018

(This blogpost is part of a series of that will be posted in the six days leading up to the Museum of Random Memory: The Sound of Forgetting, happening in Cardiff/UK and Cork/Ireland. See all blogposts in the series.)

Over two days (21-22 May 2018), the Museum of Random Memory’s latest installation “The Sound of Forgetting” will take place across two sites: the Webworkhouse in Cork and the Data Justice Conference in Cardiff.

This time, we’re creating experimental spaces where we — with the help of some local DJs — will mix sonic archives and participants’ voices to build a collaborative sonic soundscape between the two sites. At both sites, we’ll address the idea of  “Sound of Forgetting: sonic absences, rhythmic presences”, asking questions about how memory is made and lost in the datafied world. This focus on sound is especially meaningful as previous iterations of MoRM have focused on the visual, textual, and more conversational representations of memory and data.

As we brainstormed this event, focusing on data justice and forgetting, we decided to explore the sound of the deported and departed. On the one hand, we want to give space to the often obscured memories, stories and sounds of migrations, refugees, those deported and those enslaved, people socially and geographically deported (especially from and to Cardiff/Wales and Cork/Ireland).

At CounterPlay 2017 we played with forgetting through the digital fading of memories in a website platform, but also using black crayons to cover drawings.

This little evocative sketch by Mórna O’Connor was produced during our Working Retreat in Skagen. The idea of forgetting, absences, and elsewheres was taking shape in our collective process.

On the other hand, we want to presence the absence, of people and times gone by, those who have died, sounds no longer heard: migrating birds, changing accents, lost languages and now-gone ambient noises.

As we investigated these sounds, we also became particularly interested in the “unmoored”: people and sounds that are disconnected – both from the places they have left and the places where they have arrived. They can’t go home and they can’t become truly part of life in this new place. They are at sea, unmoored, without clear tie to a place or home. They are in social and geographical limbo.

These elsewheres are important to us. In Cardiff and Cork, we play with the idea through sound, location, and time. By remixing sound archives and letting passersby donate their own stories to our museum, we hope to raise questions or provoke thoughts about what is remembered, forgotten, or transformed through processes of data archiving.

What is the sound of forgetting? Where do sonic memories go in a datafied world? 

Museum of Random Memory: The Sound of Forgetting
Data Justice Conference (Cardiff/UK) and Webworkhouse (Cork/Ireland), 21-22 May 2018
This iteration is born out of a collaboration between: Dalida Benfield, Chris Bratton, Annette Markham, Milton Peña, Jack Lynskey, Shannon Walsh, Mórna O’Connor, Anu A. Harju, Robert Ochshorn, Robert Brooks, Gabriel Pereira, Antonio Santos, Stevie Grainger, GENERIC PEOPLE, and Shaun O’Connor
A project of, Aarhus University, and Center for Arts, Design + Social Research

For live updates from the field, follow @MuseumOfRandMem