Starting with the assumption that memory and temporality are the fabric from which both individuals and societies are cut, scientists who are part of a network called Memories for Life seek to redress the fallible nature of human memory. Through the design of wearable cameras and sensors or the creation of timelines and lifelines, these researchers want to help individuals achieve comprehensive memories, which they hope will lead to greater self-understanding and, ultimately, to greater self-management. In doing so, these memories are made to matter, they are made material, and as they are stored, they are made valuable. This essay focuses on two extreme cases of life-logging that make use of prototypical recording technologies: that of Gordon Bell, a senior researcher at Microsoft, who is on a quest to record his life for the sake of increased objectivity, productivity, and digital posterity; and that of Mrs. B, a woman who suffers from amnesia and wears a camera in the hope of leading a normal life in which she can share the past with loved ones. The author discusses how new recording technologies are both a symptom of, and a cure for, anxieties about time, arguing that prototypical recording machines bring with them the obligation to rethink the divide that their makers draw between the fantasy of total recall and the fear of complete amnesia. In short, this essay shows that in their encounter with the world, these technological objects raise new polyphonic formulations of the very concepts of memory and forgetting.
Lina Dib; The Forgetting Dis-Ease: Making Time Matter. differences 1 December 2012; 23 (3): 42–73. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-1892898
Download citation file: