In the 1998 video game Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, a third-person perspective, user-controlled camera allowed players to easily discover camera glitches that revealed the space behind paper-thin polygon structures. This interactive camera was one of the first of its kind. These new systems contrasted with the fixed cameras of games past and were necessary for orienting one’s avatar in the newly constructed, 3D, open-world simulations that were were being unveiled for the first time.

When the camera gets caught behind polygon structures in this game, the screen displays planes and textures floating in a void: an infinite distance and a vacuum of light. The camera’s AI will usually attempt to right the wrong, embarrassed at having revealed itself; other times, the camera will find itself caught in a perfect bind, unable to correct the gaffe.

I’m not so interested in video games here but rather a question: can this sort of depiction of space inform an understanding of self in relation to a method of loci memory palace? Those mnemonic architectural constructions also exist exclusively in a virtual space (of the imagination) and, as such, have very little material integrity. Behind textures of marble, wood, or plaster, these structures’ foundations paradoxically draw stability from amorphous goo, but because depictions of memory palaces frequently serve to equate architecture with narrative (such as in Emma Willard’s 1846 Temple of Time illustration), a conversation about architecture seems to shift to the concrete topic of real estate development as easily as it does to the topic of constructing narrative history.

Edith’s Ghost finds place in a structurally failing barn in the woods of Southeast Connecticut. The foundation is slipping down the hill towards the water, and the verticals of the structure slant at least five degrees to the South. Chances are high that, in a few years, the structure will collapse.

When Lot’s wife, Edith, is transformed into a pillar of salt in chapter 18 of Genesis, the reader is presented with a subject defined by its triplet state: a material charged with presence, a monument to the ephemerality of the human body (or, perhaps, biological architecture), and a totalitarian warning (“obey or be smote”).

There is some ethereal relationship that is formed between this subject and the proposal of the memory palace. It seems to outline something that is not so intuitive: reification of spirit and virtualization of structure.

Install shot of Edith’s Ghost
19’x24’x10′
2017

Install shot of Edith’s Ghost
19’x24’x10′
2017

Central column and painting: Edith
Salt and wood, acrylic on panel
Column : 66”x6”x6”
Painting : 36”x48”
2017

Window
Acrylic light diffuser, screw, and cut barn
13”x16”
2017

A Projection Onto Architecture
Wood, acrylic latex, toilet paper, inkjet pigment
Dimensions variable
2017

Detail, A Projection Onto Architecture
Toilet paper and inkjet pigment
2017

Fireplace
Wood, salt, chain, acrylic light diffuser, particle board, vinyl, steel
48”x34”x36”
2016

Detail, Fireplace
Wood, salt, chain, acrylic light diffuser, particle board, vinyl, steel
48”x34”x36”
2016

Detail, Fireplace
Wood, salt, chain, acrylic light diffuser, particle board, vinyl, steel
48”x34”x36”
2016

Detail, Fireplace
Wood, salt, chain, acrylic light diffuser, particle board, vinyl, steel
48”x34”x36”
2016

Edith (After Columbia Pictures)
Acrylic on canvas
36”x48”
2016

Wandering Spirit
ILIFE robotic vacuum
4”x12”x12”
2017
The piece “Wandering Spirit” consists of a
performance conducted by an ILIFE robotic vacuum
in the barn as it approaches and inspects various
works.

Natural Mineral
Solar panel, insulated copper wire, Listerine
Mouthwash, LED lights
Variable dimensions
2016

Detail, Natural Mineral
Solar panel, insulated copper wire, Listerine
Mouthwash, LED lights
Variable dimensions
2016

Memory Palace
Plywood, particleboard, acrylic latex, plastic, charcoal coated paint
bucket, vinyl, inkjet pigment, Baseball Globe
Dimensions variable
2017

Detail, Memory Palace
Inkjet pigment, plastic, plywood, vinyl, particleboard
2017

Two Shells and a Memory
Wicker, HMA, vinyl, particle board
Dimensions variable (~6”x~22”x~18”)
2017

Edith’s Ghost install

Colin Alexander (b. Cleveland, Ohio, USA) is an artist, writer, and curator currently working in Southeast Connecticut. He co-directed the project space Bb in Baltimore, MD and founded the critical platform Post-Office Arts Journal. Recent exhibitions include Document V (The Luminary, St. Louis, MO), Surface Tension (Current Space, Baltimore, MD), and Narrow Waves (Interstate Projects/Springsteen Gallery, Brooklyn, NY).

www.colinalexander.info

www.ghostfeaturefilm.com