Mnemonic Present, Un-Folding

This was between 2004 and 2006, and funded by the AHRC at Central Saint Martins College, London. The series of video live installations involved the action of folding of a long stripe of paper, this was recorded and projected with 8 seconds delay on three screens, so that the spectators perceive the event itself both live and in deferred (in the past). This manipulation of documentation of the live event is an attempt to generate a sort of memory of the present or mnemonic present. 38Mnemonic Present, Un-Folding #3 at GAMeC, Bergamo, Italy 2005



I have been working in the direction of what is now better defined as ‘socially engaged practice’ for some time, but was busier with content than defining a genre. I am still more interested in content, but for artists who look around for ideas and happen to steal here and there when they are out of their own, here a little reminder


back to my 1996 skechbook

Circini Centrum, Elena Cologni, 1996In ‘That spot in the ‘moving picture’ is you, (perception in time-based art)’ in John Freeman’s Blood, Sweat & Theory: Research through Practice in Performance, Libri Publishing, London, 2010, pp. 83-107, I first tried to bridge my current practice to my previous work. The drawings from one of my 1996 sketchbooks was thus published to contextualise my renewed interest in cognition and art. Here is the abstract:

Abstract. In my video live installations I investigate the perception of time (psychological time), non simultaneous artist and audience interchange in liveness, and the
ontology/production of theCompensazione, Elena Cologni, 1996 video document. Particularly, how live recording, pre-recording and their transmission, can all be perceived as overlapping layers of representation of time, and unfold in duration.

‘When we think of this present as what ought to be, it is no longer, and when we think of it as existing, it is already past…all perception is already memory’ (Bergson, Matièr
et mémoire
, 166-167).

I mainly refer to time implied in audience fruition of works of art, where synchronicity of vision is not taken for granted. Where vision is considered only one of the instruments for knowing, as psychological studies have shown. I am thinking of appreciation of painting in Gestald terms for instance (example of use of perspective and distortions), Arnheim, the structuralist theory of perception of space. Aspects of these I have
embraced in my art work in the adoption of gaps, the viewer’s diachronic approach
to human size objects (sculptures), the kaenesthetics generated by ambients, and
the relation between performer and spectator. In particular, the fruition stage I have described in relation to painting in my doctoral thesis, later illustrated, suggests a sort of audience involvement which is rooted in perceptual and psychological dynamics and is conceived as based on time. As my own media of artistic expression moved from 2D into performance and time based territory, the visual paradigm of composition within which I place a gap allowing for audience interaction overlaps with time. In this account I trace this journey of understanding (or research methods embedded) in my art practice.