Dec 6, 2010

Major Studio: Final Project Concept and Design Questions

History is a set of data agreed upon.

WikiLeaks is an organization that prides themselves on creating transparency by releasing confidential documents held by the government and other private organizations. Through their recent release of diplomatic cables, aptly being called “Cable Gate,” the general population has access to information that calls into question an already formed idea of history. In the wake of Cable Gate, this quotation reemerged in my head after a period of dormancy:

History is a set of lies that people have agreed upon. Even when I am gone, I shall remain in the people’s minds the star of their rights, my name will be the warcry of their efforts, the motto of their hopes. (Napoleon Bonaparte, 1815)

Which then reminded me of a line from a favorite song:

I’m set free to find a new illusion. (Lou Reed, 1969)

Data gives us the illusion of temporal omniscience, whether in print book or screen database. Words and numbers aid us in constructing our perspective of the past and its impact on the present and future. When that data becomes subverted later on, our historical narrative surrounding it is also called into question.

For my final project, I will create an water-based installation that meditates on the cyclical and leaky narrative of history in a data driven age.


In an age of data, stored memory is altering traditional ideas of history.

Technology is transforming popular perceptions of history as a static framework for examining relationships between past, present, and future. With the ability to create, communicate, store, retrieve, and recommunicate information, the lines of linearity are becoming blurred to engender a more cyclical, humanized paradigm of history.

Design Questions:

How can an analogy between water and data be presented in object form to conceptualize a narrative that addresses the fluidity of time-based events, ideas, and people within a historical context?

(Another phrasing of this question: How to objectify an analogy between water and data to conceptualize a narrative addressing the fluidity of time-based events, ideas, and people within a historical context?)

Further, what is the most effective way to illustrate the appearance of a cohesive system while highlighting the reality of their disjointed elements?

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