Selective Memories

About Selective Memories

Selective Memories is an online participative artwork that is part of a triptych of artworks establishing parallels between the construction of the archive and the construction of the truth in order to question in hollow that of false information.

It proposes to its participants to choose, for each text which is presented to them, if it deserves to be archived or destroyed according to them. These texts have the particularity of being for a part of them authentic archive texts (the mother archives) and for the other fictitious texts generated with the help of an artificial intelligence (the daughter archives). The mother archives are texts from the Broadsides archive of the National Library of Scotland. Known as the 'ancestors' of the Tabloids, these archives have a complex relationship with the truth. The selected texts are either text recounting trials, which present here a form of mise en abyme of the relationship to reality, or texts that relate very surprising facts to the point of doubting that they really took place. These texts rarely leave us unmoved because they carry an emotional charge that further disturbs our appreciation of past events by establishing a particular connection with them. They were used to train the artificial intelligence algorithm that generated the fictitious texts of the daughter archives. They share with the mother archives the subjects treated as well as the page layout.

All the texts are displayed randomly and presented on the same plane, in an identical format, thus reproducing the phenomenon of loss of reference points that social networks create with regard to the information they relay. In order to respond to the injunction given to them, users must still find indicators to decide which texts to keep or destroy. Will verisimilitude be the only criteria? Will the emotion that certain texts can provoke get in the way? Can 'fake' texts manage to produce such emotions in their readers? What place does emotion have in our apprehension of the true and the false?

Selective Memories calls upon a reflex that we use every day in our use of social networks: to separate the true from the false in the information that is presented. However this work, often unconscious, is not without consequences for our memory in which can slip false information to the point of developing false memories. In this case, the mechanism is reversed: the participants think they are consulting archival texts whose format does not allow them to identify at first glance which ones are authentic or not. It is only after having indicated their choice to archive or destroy a text that they discover the existence of this parameter which can potentially call into question its validity.

This project was realized within the framework of the artistic residency New Forms of Togetherness organized by the Alliance Française of Glasgow, the Goethe-Institut Glasgow, the Institut Français d'Écosse in partnership with the National Library of Scotland, the NEoN Digital Arts Festival and the Soba Lab.