In ancient Greece memory was considered comparable to a wax tablet on which experience left its marks throughout the course of an entire life. Depending on the intensity of the event, the mark on the tablet would be deeper, and thus the memory would be more permanent. When we are born, the tablet is entirely smooth, free from any marks, since experiences have not yet had any affect on it. This is the metaphor that gave rise to the phrase “Tabula Rasa”.
In order for the marks that events leave to be longer lasting, mankind has invented all kinds of objects and instruments to preserve and archive individual and collective memory. Sight and hearing are the senses that have been most imitated by means of instruments like photographic and video cameras. The capacity to save and reproduce a memory at will is a priority. It is a case of exhaustively documenting the world, almost emulating the infortunate “ Funes The Memoriser”, the Borges charactere who remember absolutely everything. He is an individual who, incapable of forgetting anything, finds himself obliged to remember in real time, so that he needs a whole day to remember everything that he remembers about another day.
At the other extreme, Alzheimer´s disease is irremediably absorbed in the process of forgetting everything that one has known or learned. A photograph, a word or a sound can be trigger that releases inaccessible memories, which substitute interrupted synapses.
As Juan Carlos López explains in his book The Workshop of Memory, evoking memories is reconstructing the past from fragments and filling in the gaps with our expectations and desires. And this is why the images of our memory do not come with the perfect arrangement, attitude and clarity of figures in a photograph, but instead are like the small details we discover when we look at photographs slowly and from close up.
Tabula Rasa provides a device that invites the viewer to reconstruct the mosaic of a lifelike memory.