> posted by   on October 31st 2013

LDF 2013: Memory Palace

Sky Arts Ignition: Memory Palace is a collaboration between British-Indian novelist Hari Kunzru and 20 internationally acclaimed graphic designers, illustrators and typographers.

Kunzru wrote a dystopian novella set in a futuristic London after the giant magnetic storm disaster that deleted all our stored (digital) memory. Since our future civilisation will be built on digital technology, this means that this catastrophic accident wipes out our civilisation’s knowledge.

Kunzu’s novel is a dark vision of a future in which not just books but remembering itself is banned and a small group of renegade memorialists is all that stands in the face of total oblivion. From the point of view of one of their incarcerated members, Memory Palace takes us through his fragmented memories as he lies trapped in his cell, clinging to the belief that without memory civilisation is doomed. An essay by the exhibition’s curators, Laurie Britton Newell and Ligaya Salazar, unpicks the intentions and process behind this innovative project, while specially commissioned work by Robert Frank Hunter and drawings from the exhibition’s collaborators illustrate the book.


Not so much the exhibition but the story made a very big impression on me. Since it is my job to memorise the things I see, I find the concept of re-building memories just fascinating.



The Ancient Greeks created an elaborate memory system, based on a technique of impressing ‘places’ and ‘images’ (loci and imagines) on the mind. It has usually been classed as ‘mnemotechnics’, which in modern times seems a rather unimportant branch of human activity. In the ages before printing, a trained memory was vitally important; and the manipulation of images in memory must always to some extent involve the psyche as a whole.



“Here is how to remember.

First you must choose a place.

You walk around it, impressing every detail on your memory, until you can tour it in your mind when you are not there”.

Hari Kunzru






Related Posts


Leave a comment