Plexiglass, LED lights
4 x 78 x 40 in (10 x 200 x 100 cm)
The piece investigates our relationship with memory and history as affected by the new technologies revolution. Permutations places side-by-side two opposite concepts born in the same place – Europe – but at two different times in human history.
The “Duty to remember”, translated from the French expression “Devoir de memoire”, is a concept inherited from WW2 that reminds us of our obligation to confront the past and never forget the atrocities of our history. It sees memory as a safeguard to protect humanity from repeating the same mistakes and gives each individual the personal responsibility to be the guardian of what otherwise would be lost.
The “Right to be forgotten”, on the other hand, comes from a recent European Court of Justice (ECJ) judgment requiring Internet search providers to remove links to embarrassing information even if that information are factual record of past events.
Inside Permutations, the two concepts are physically decomposed into sets of words spreading around the installation space. The words “Right” come to challenge the authority of "Duty", implicitly asking: if there is a right to be forgotten, is there a duty to forget?
The installation opposes two vision of the world: pre and post Internet. New technologies challenge the traditional construction of history by giving people agency over reality. With popular online applications like Snapchat, individuals could already delete their real, virtual moments seconds after they are created, poking superficial holes in their online identity and relieving them from feeling a personal responsibility for their actions that have been deleted. The decision of the ECJ comes to legitimize this new vision of a world where each individual has not only the power but also the right to remake his/her historical record.