Archive of Collective Memory

About the Archive
The Archive of Collective Memory was an interactive public art installation as part of the 2023 Art Shanty Projects in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The Archive offered an opportunity for its visitors to reflect on the nature of representation, archives, and the relationship between individual and collective memory. From within its hexagonal wooden structure, the Archive played music translated from Archive visitor's text-based submissions.

At the end of each installation day, the Archive collected and translated these submissions with an algorithm designed by the artists before being added to the Archive. This algorithm, roughly speaking, translated individual letters, numbers, punctuation into notes of a musical scale. Vowels in words introduced varying forms of rhythym while spaces and punctuation introduced variations of silence.

On the final day of the Art Shanties, the Archive played back its contents in extenso - the accumulated music from all submissions to the archive - offering a space for reflection on what has been collectively represented and stored within the Archive.

Visitors were encouraged to reflect on the nature of memory, representation, sound, and archives. A few questions were provided to guide visitors:

Listen to a complete composition created from visitor submissions to the Archive of Collective Memory.
In the below file, all visitor contributions to the Archive were assigned to an individual instrument track and laid atop one another. As each day's tracks are of different lengths, instruments slowly disappear until we are left with only the longest day's contribution:

Further Reading
Excerpt from Maurice Halbwach's On Collective Memory
Excerpt from Pierre Nora's "Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire"