an interactive installation by Mark Cypher

Memesis, interactive installation, 2003

How we restructure nature around us is an historical and contemporary attempt to build a network of ideologies. Landscape encompasses private and personal narratives built on shared and cumulative knowledge over time. Therefore what signifies landscape and by relation ourselves has been subject to change over time. Thus when we define landscape and nature and we ususally re-define ourselves in the process.

Such 'natural definitions' are inherently dynamic. In this way stable meaning and identity remains elusive, for there is no single signifier that could possibly encompass the complex networks of signifiers that make up landscape. To find something only to have it concealed, experienced yet to be denied an understanding of its full meaning, represents the paradox of relations with landscape.

That places are read with memory adds another dynamic to the play of signifiers. Often memory plays a perceptual role in understanding the image of the landscape. The inclusion of memory and the imagination as a significant signifier of place is an attempt to understand and ground present contexts through previous experiences. Memory is always already present grounding perception in an otherwise shifting context.

Notions of landscape real, imagined and virtual (if in fact there is a difference) are enveloped in a dynamic network of memories, narratives and actions that actively construct the places we live in and ourselves in the same process. Memesis seeks to embed the user in an ongoing process of interaction with notions of landscape, tracing the construction of a constantly evolving idea; nature.

Memesis, interactive installation, 2003

As the user walks into the installation, the participant’s point of view within the world is moved backwards, out of the world. As the participant progressively moves out of the room the point of view within the 3d world progressively returns to its original equilibrium position. As the user moves so does proximity and hence volume to certain sounds. With each participant’s steps, words and sentences are randomly generated then whispered and panned from left to right speakers, generating a constantly changing narrative. If the participant stands still for any length of time the screen begins to mist up, which then gradually lifts when the participant takes the next step.

When the participant reaches the closest point to the screen) the screen is rendered black, leaving a small eye like aperture through which the world can vaguely be seen.

The visual elusiveness of Memesis, denies the gaze its ability to make what it sees property, and outlines the paradox embodied in notions of experiencing nature.