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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Computing an Identity – Tetsuro Nagata

  • On July 15, 2009


Tetsuro Nagata, a recent graduate of the Bartlett’s Interactive Architecture Workshop, has created a series of pedagogic installations Inspired by Frances Yates’ “Art of Memory”, exploring physical manifestation of various concepts of memory. The final installation “Computing an Identity” is a Memory Theatre (a reference to Giulio Camillo’s Renaissance masterpiece), which uses delayed images of the self to question the observer’s own memory.


The installation is a processional experience, beginning with a spotlight that initially appears to display your shadow. The shadow then begins to delay questioning the observer’s perception of things that we take for granted. If the observer stays still, his shadow is merged into one of a previous occupant of the space.


The procession moves on towards a delayed mirror, which shortens its delay the closer you get to it. At a certain distance, the reflection becomes clearer, and the observer is able to directly compare their delayed reflection with their real one.


The piece culminates with a ‘rose window’ which captures observers’ faces, and reveals to the individual, his position within the long-term memory of the space. When left alone, the installation begins ‘dreaming’ – reconstructing its previous memories.


The piece instigates a conversation about image, identity and story-telling in a secular world. The individual procession references that of a church; from nave, to altar, and exiting through the West door. Nagata explains that “One of my initial aims was to question where bodily and facial images have gone from contemporary architecture, and as devices that trigger your memory, what their role is in a society obsessed with storing memories in external appliances.”


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