the { alchemy } of { memory }

the { alchemy } of { memory }  /   mixed media, video projection, led lights, found objects, crystallization / 2018

the { alchemy } of { memory } / mixed media, video projection, led lights, found objects, crystallization / 2018

Spilling out of this magical wunderkammer is an immersive playspace where participants can contribute to the { alchemy } of { memory }. This installation is an emergent, personal reflection on Venezuelan diaspora and memory crystallization. Seeded with media from my family and ancestors, this collection of photography, poetry, and crystallized objects is a fragmented archive removed from its home. Stemming from feelings of longing and wonder, this piece invites others to consider a place they can longer return too.


interaction design

Note: the piece in the upper right hand corner is Untitled (Folding 2) by Jimmy Robert, 2012

This installation is divided into several “contact zones”* representing the past, present, and future transformation of a given memento (see above). Initially the past will be seeded with media from my family’s archive and artifacts that have already been crystallized. In this wunderkammer, the artifacts of the past are all crystallized. The present consists of the mementos going through the process of crystallization, i.e. soaking in a water-borax bath. The future will be objects that have yet to be crystallized, but are given as an offering by the participants. Though these stations are distinctive, the transformation of the artifacts in the space is cyclical and ever-evolving.

*Mary Louise Pratt describes the imaginary site of the contact zone as being, “social spaces where cultures meet, clash and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power.” Pratt, Mary Louise. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation. (London: Routledge, 1993), 607.


master shot of the installation to show layout of “contact zones”

past // Kammer

The cabinet itself was comprised of found objects and media that I manipulated through crystallization and foil appliqué. It includes film remnants from my grandfather’s archive, fragments of my great-grandfather’s poetry, Venezuelan money folded into flowers and leaves. The inside was lined with an LED strip that cycled white light throughout each of the sections.

future // table

This investigation table was filled with writing implements, velum paper, remnants from my crystal experiments, and more of my great-grandfather’s poetry. The prompt for writing was to share a story about a place you can no longer return too. This was devised from an acting prompt and feelings of Venezuelan displacement and diaspora.

present // bowl

Over the course of the installation, participants left their stories in a bowl filled with the borax solution and a folded paper that had Venezuela written in it. These offerings melted together, with their ink bleeding into the paper, becoming crystallized remnants in this alchemy of memory.

The remnants

From left to right: present, past, future

Zoe Sandovalmfa, ritual, installation