What might one remember if one were to hold an iPod in one’s hand whilst the stranger on the screen voiced their memories directly into one’s ear? How might the medium in which their testimonies are presented affect the experience of these memories? With a practice that encompasses a variety of media — including photography, film, video, photobooks, slides and even View-Masters — Portuguese-artist Daniel Blaufuks (b.1963) turned to iPods as an immersive media for his 2008 project ‘Now Remember’. The work takes its title from Georges Perec’s ‘Je me souviens’ (1978) — which in turn was borrowed from Joe Brainard’s ‘I remember’ (1975) —, a collection of 480 autobiographical statements each beginning with “I remember…”. In ‘Now Remember’, Blaufuks recorded the testimonies of five individuals (Heather, Irene, Nadia, Scott and Thomas) asked to follow the “I remember…” constraint for 15 minutes. The memories shared ranged from the mundane, “I remember yesterday morning”, to the harrowing, “I remember a single drop of blood on the couch on the day that my friend Ray shot himself in the head.”
Rather than projecting the recordings sequentially in a gallery space, where viewers would experience the work collectively, or choose to show each video in an individual screen with headphones, where spectators would continue to have little agency over their viewing, Blaufuks elected to turn to iPods. In ‘Now Remember’, the iPod operates as a capsule of memories as much as a device on which to share them; containing the testimonies as five separate files, in turning the device on and off, the viewer could open or close a window into someone else’s memories. One could rewind, change tracks, or skip ahead, but there was an additional trait to experiencing the project through an iPod: it is small enough to fit in one’s hand and the sound is deployed directly into one’s ear. This cradling of the devise, with its minute screen, returns the making public of the memories of these five individuals into something experienced privately, as if they were meant solely for one’s ears; it is here that one might perceive to unique qualities the iPod offers as an immersive media and how it might impact the response to the telling of memories. What might one remember when one hears these voices?