Natasha Lushetich

Cultural memory is often defined as that part of culture that cannot be transmitted by genes (Assman 2008). In oral cultures, important information is stored in finite human beings and does not exceed the capacity of the information carrier. In the digital era, information is stored on external mnemonic carriers with unlimited storing capacity, which raises the question of proportion and excess. Both differ vastly from the traditional ordering of the culturally ‘relevant’ versus the ‘less relevant’, as based on (the periodically revised/re-articulated) canons and margins. In the second decade of the 21st century, two problems stand in the way of re-articulation: acceleration and retroversion. Partly due to the exponential growth of the informational mass, partly to the instability of information, today we are faced with drastic reversals that render formerly beneficial information/actions useless, or even criminal (Rothenberg 2010). Both past and present have become indeterminate (Gustafsson 2010) while the future is increasingly seen as overdetermined (Han 2017).

This paper interrogates the informational age’s mutually configuring relationship of the universal and the particular, structural and idiosyncratic, standardised and accidental, through Masaki Fujihata’s cultural-mnemonic project BeHere (2018-). In this project, Fujihata ‘resurrected’ the collective past of the Hong Kong district Wan Chai with the aid of ‘found’ individual narratives and images, randomly sampled from the internet and further articulated through the use of augmented reality and photogrammetry. In querying the global informational-cultural enmeshment of public and private, purposefully preserved and accidental, and aligning Fujihata’s work with Nishida’s (1987) theorisation of the interexpressive relation between the universal and particular as well as Hansen’s (2011) notion of the an-archive, I examine the project’s spatio-temporal coordinates and mnemonic patterns in relation to three key points: a) the semantic elevation of dispersed personal fragments to cultural-mnemonic placeholders; b) individual assimilation of cultural symbols via embodied interaction; and c) collectivisation via remediation.

→ Transcodification