Reconsolidation Machine is an art and research project by the neurologist and neuroscientist Dr. Christoph Ploner and the artist and independent curator Márcio Carvalho. The project investigates how technologies and practices of remembering have been influencing individuals and groups to remember and/or forget past events; more specifically the ways by which autobiographical or collective memory have been reconsolidated by biological, social or political memory disruptions. The project proposes to think about memory reconsolidation through the Confessional object. The act of confession exist in people's everyday life, between friends, family, etc. Yet, religion ritualized confession, becoming a performative/narrative behavior, in which the person acknowledges thoughts or actions considered sinful or morally wrong within the confines of it's own religion.
The second phase of the project proposed to think about memory reconsolidation by combining the confessional as a ritualistic and religious object and Bruegel’s Topsy Turvy World painting, situated at the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin. The act of confession exist in people’s everyday life, between friends, family, etc. Yet, religion ritualized confession, becoming a performative/narrative behavior, in which the person acknowledges thoughts or actions considered sinful or morally wrong within the confines of it’s own religion. The confessional can be considered a technology that gives a performative dimension to remembering and forgetting. Memories they don’t disappear through the action of confession. Instead they change. By designing the confessional, church created a way to re-consolidate the memories of a believer by erasing guilt and regret.
Bruegel’s Topsy Turvy World painting contains a literal illustration of idioms and aphorisms of 16th century Flemish life. There are approximately 112 identifiable proverbs and idioms in the scene, that were meant to illustrate human stupidity and foolishness; although Bruegel may have included others which cannot be determined. Ploner and Carvalho are interested in working with some of Bruegel’s illustrations of such proverbs, specially the ones that can be related to the exhibition concept of Giving Contours to Shadows exhibition and its will to “activate a long-term dialogue and discourse on the possibilities of deliberating on history, pre-writing history and even sequestrate history”. One shears sheep, the other shears pigs; Shear them but do not skin them; What can smoke do to iron?; To always gnaw on a single bone; The die is cast; To look through one’s fingers or To confess to the Devil are some of the proverbs that Ploner and Carvalho are planning to work with.
The project outcomes were presented at Giving Contours to Shadows projects, at Gemaldegalerie, Berlin, curated by Bonaventure Soh Ndikung, Elena Agudio and Storm Janse van Rensburg.