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Mnemosyne's Dream

Mnemosyne's Dream is an installation combining the seemingly incongruous elements of electronic technology and idyllic nature. Walls constructed from hundreds of recycled computer circuit boards are juxtaposed with walls stenciled from leaves. Some floors are imprinted circuit boards and others are pine needles. Repeated images of hands and leaves suggest the confluence of the natural and human elements of production.

A life-size shaman representing the technologies of representation, photography and digital imaging, plays the part of a guide, and a 21st Mnemosyne, the ancient Goddess of Memory and Mother of the Muses. Slowly rotating on a motorized base, she greets visitors at the entrance of this turn-of-the-century, house and garden of memory.

The installation consists of a series of rooms or chambers through which the viewer wanders, encountering various natural and culturally-produced artifacts with eyes, ears, and hands. In one room, large projected images of hands and landscapes envelop the walls. In another, a soft and muted inkjet print of a small figure walking in a forest stretches floor to ceiling.

Filtering throughout the space is a sound track composed by Garrison Hull that combines acoustic and electronic elements and layers ancient sounds with those carrying a contemporary resonance. In the area of the installation where Mnemosyne slowly turns, the mesmerizing beat of a wooden drum is combined with the flute song derived from the "Hymn to Dionysus and Apollo," the oldest known recorded melody. In other parts of the installation, a cello dominates, and in other we hear "found" audio such as a typewriter clicking and birds chirping.



Mnemosyne's Dream Performance

Mnemosyne's Dream originated in 1991 as a performance piece at Mundo Futuro, an event sponsored by Washington Project for the Arts. This first incarnation of the shaman is pictured below on the cover of Feminist Studies, Spring 1992. The costume was then modified to become a sculptural figure and was incorporated into the multifaceted installation described above. The Shaman has reappeared in different costumes at other live events during the last decade, always flirting with cyborgian hybrids of machine and nature.