Collected Memory: A Diary of the World

Collected Memory – A diary of the world is a continuation of Mille Kalsmose’s long-term project Collected Memory, which premiered at the UN Headquarter in New York in 2019. Collected Memory is a network of sculptural, participatory installations, made from recycled brass and paper, which addresses both the sedimentation of individual memories, but also how they are influenced by social frameworks.

At the Republic of Cameroon’s pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia, the artist’s vast archive has been remediated as NFTs in order to explore how we even consider a collective memory in a time, where intimate, human experiences are recorded and compiled as extensive networks of data, and where our lives are not only
uploaded, but also used data sets for machine learning and artificial intelligence to feed on. A recurrent element in this series has been the act of writing, and in Collected Memory – A diary of the world, textual inputs take the shape of a curving, surreal cloud cover, where words and statements move together as chains of word. This meta-structure is shaped and animated through a unique set of generative, algorithm-driven methods, relying on techniques commonly used in processing vast datasets. A diary is
often a source to our inner life, most secret thoughts and adolescent hopes, and by drawing on the thematic of this year’s biennale, Milk of Dreams, Kalsmose has created a diary unlike any other. The text appears before our eyes in a never-ending loop, some as clear words, others as abstractions, repeating the statements over and over, as a meditative mantra in a state of perpetual becoming, almost as a landscape taking form. The surreal mix of materialism and digital art, and of the original installation’s tactile parchment and the flickery form of the NFTs, underlines not only the contrast between data and lived experience, but also how life today is surreal, constantly alternating between the physical and digital sphere.