The “Constellation of Memories” is a digital platform towards collective consciousness to engage communities with their memories. This first edition was developed for the Waking Life’s The Space Between online digital edition festival as an interface to the memories of the Waking Life community. The interface is represented as a Word Cloud with the words that give greater prominence to the question “What appeals to you Waking Life ?”. This question was addressed and answered by the Waking Life community during the COVID19 isolation period. Now is represented as an online digital platform where users can navigate through the memories and each time generate a unique constellation of words that relate to the present moment. We hope that from sharing our memories in a meaningful way, we engage better in our present and get enthusiastic about the time we will all meet together!
Credits: Concept and UI: Rudolfo Quintas; Audiovisual Programming: Joan Sandoval; Data Science: David Rau; Web Developer: Nir Elbaz; Production: Challenge Silence. Co-Production: Waking Life.
Mattia Tosti curatorial text: MAPPING STARS AND COMMUNITIES : THE CONSTELLATION OF MEMORIES BY RUDOLFO QUINTAS: The Constellation of Memories is a web-art project by Rudolfo Quintas Studio created specifically for Waking Life’s The Space Between. The work takes the shape of a social platform self-regulated by algorithms, in which members of the Waking Life community can share, visualize and interact with their ideas and memories of the festival. The intention of this platform is to create a digital transposition of the festival’s collective memory, that allows for a direct and sensorial engagement with the main memories and ideas of its participants. Transferring memories and consciousness to computers has been a recurring element in science fiction novels. Already in 1988, Canadian roboticist Hans Moravec, wrote the book Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence, in which he argued that the boundaries between the body and the machine are dissolving. In this book he described an operation whereby the brain is carefully dissected and its pattern replicated in a machine, thereby transferring consciousness from the biological body to a computer. If we temporarily forget about the surgical element in the story, and consider the term “operation” in a computational fashion, we can easily see how this practice does not belong to a distant and dystopic future, but is rather a procedure that is deeply rooted in our present, when we use social platforms and feed them with our memories and patterns of behaviour. In this social platform, the memories and ideas of the participants of Waking Life won’t find a new home inside of the usual newsfeed based interface, but in a word-cloud with the words that give greater prominence to the question “What appeals you to Waking Life?”. This interactive word-cloud resembles the shape of a galaxy, formed by many constellations that the user can explore and map its patterns around their own narrative. The fascination with stars and constellations dates back to prehistory, when early human communities recognised patterns in the sky resembling objects, animals and mythological figures. Once these patterns forming familiar shapes were first recognized, early humans started constructing different narratives around them: from personal experiences to shared religious beliefs, in order to attach to some higher, mysterious -yet constantly visible, memories and ideals that could strengthen the values, ideals and beliefs of a given community. This tendency of recognizing patterns in nature and objects is known as pareidolia and can be applied used to describe the way in which ancient communities connected the dots formed by the stars, but also to a certain extent, to the inner workings of social platforms that are constantly surveilling its users in order to recognize their patterns of behaviour. In contrast, the memories present in The Constellation of Memories’ word-cloud, are free from the machine gaze of social platforms, therefore (hence) its users are the only ones that can recognize patterns between the different contributions collected. In this work, the vastness of the sky as a place where humans can project narratives and beliefs, is substituted by the virtual world of the internet, which in the same way becomes a site where these reflections can last and continue to shed light on awareness of a group of individuals’ shared consciousness. This notion of a shared consciousness as one of the founding pillars for the creation and consolidation of a community, can be traced back to the movement of the New Communalists. This wing of the American counterculture, which was responsible for the biggest wave of communalization in American history during the ‘60s, aimed at organizing itself around the pursuit of a shared consciousness and with it, a levelled social structure that would obviate the need for politics. One of the means through which they believed it was possible to achieve this objective, was borrowed by American visionary architect and designer Buckminster Fuller, who believed that the repurposing of industrial technologies was one of the keys to obtain social change. Nowadays, this possibility of repurposing technologies is still a relevant topic that needs to be addressed in order to obtain a better future. Innovations such as blockchain, AI and Big Data, provide for the possibility of imagining a post-Neoliberal world, where technology could allow for automated production, reliable checks and balances, universal healthcare and basic income. The Constellation of Memories, it seems to suggest us in a simple and intuitive way the idea that digital tools, in particular social platforms, if de-scaled and freed from the current infrastructure driven by profit through surveillance, can become sites of mutual assistance and solidarity that can enable community engagement and awareness through the creation and consolidation of a shared digital consciousness.