The Memory of All Traces
Memory – the pattern of sedimented enfoldings of iterative intra-activity – is written into the fabric of the world. The world ‘holds’ the memory of all traces; or rather, the world is its memory (enfolded materialisation).
As an artist in residence in Yerba Buena Center for the Arts' Work in Progress exhibition, I conducted two months of research on the South of Market neighborhood. Change in a neighborhood can at times seem abstract or unfathomable; the goal of my project was both to delineate and render palpable that change, as well as to connect recent history with what is properly understood as historical (with a capital H). To do this, I drew upon methods developed in previous projects in order to explore relationships among present experience, recent history, and older history. This meant a multi-perspective excavation of experiences and images of the area surrounding the YBCA, composed of: 1) visual analyses of older imagery on StreetView (many areas in SOMA have the option to go back to 2007), 2) user-provided content such as YouTube videos and Yelp videos, 3) research at the nearby Prelinger Library, and 4) an invitation to the public to contribute anecdotal information, memories, etc. Ideally, visitors to and participants in the project would come to experience the present as imminently historical.
While in residence at YBCA, I maintained a public reading area with texts ranging from Jack Kerouac's "October in the Railroad Earth" to Chester Hartman's Yerba Buena: Land Grab and Community Resistance. I also left out notebooks for visitors to leave thoughts and memories related to certain sites. The information I gathered from research and from conversations with visitors was ultimately woven into a mobile walking tour, which I led in person in January, but which is designed to be a self-guided tour. To access the walking tour, visit this link on your phone:
Playing in the gallery space: 1) Kent Long's Tribal Scream, showing scenes from a Dead Kennedys show at Rock Against Reagan next to the Moscone Center (where YBCA is now) 1984; 2) Survival Research Labs' performance at the groundbreaking for SFMOMA, which was about to move to SOMA from Civic Center; 3) the 1999 marketing video for the then-self-consciously futuristic Sony Metreon.
I also spent some of my time at YBCA creating “temporal portraits” of places on Street View using screen shots of current and historical StreetView imagery of local alleys. Specifically, I chose two different parts of Jessie St., once a continuous street, now a series of discontinuous alleys that parallel Mission St. Each print collects specific features as they appeared over time, or people who happened to be standing in the same place in different years.