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   Kay Burns
Random Access Memory
Video still
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2000 [colour, 3 min. 38 sec.]
(Documentation of installation)

Random Access Memory portrays memory as a construction of fragments based on lived experiences combined with ancestral memory. It conveys how memory diminishes and becomes distorted over time, and addresses how the senses of vision, hearing, and touch can awaken memories. The potential for non-sequential access within technologically delivered information reflects human memory - randomly recalled fragments from which we construct an understanding of our own history in the world

The exhibition space was dark, and relatively minimal; divided into two main areas. In the outer area, the video was projected high up on the wall, flanked by aluminum screens that functioned as both conductive and reflective surfaces for the light cues in the space - lighting effects that altered the installation environment in response to the viewer's touch of the screens. The aluminum screens also allowed filtered light and diminished image to pass through to other screens and on to the black wall behind, creating an ephemeral environment where memory images are both fragmented and distorted. The audio in this outer area was delivered through headphones in conjunction with the video projection. The area behind the black curtain is the hidden domain of ancestral memory. Within this area, a touch-sensitive, plexiglass, back-projection screen is the focus of the space. The viewer's entry into the space triggered the initial audio delivery to small stereo speakers through floor sensors embedded in the rug. I constructed the projection screen to contain thread-like wires hooked to 11 sensors which, when touched, activated changing imagery and audio. The viewers' touch of the images on the screen is the interface for this inner area, thereby building a connection between the primal nature of touch as a trigger for memory - touch that remains as allusive as distant memories because the sensation is distanced by the smooth surface of the screen rather than the tactile surfaces inherent in the imagery.

Production Centre: EMMEDIA, Calgary