This is a sponsored post in partnership with the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Could you countenance a world without knowledge? A world where books and recordings have been wiped out? A world where remembering is banned? Hari Kunzru’s new novel does just that, imagining a future London hundreds of years after the world’s information infrastructure has been wiped out by an immense magnetic storm.
Technology and knowledge have been lost, and a dark age prevails. Nature has taken over the ruins of the old city and power has been seized by a group who enforce a life of extreme simplicity on all citizens. Recording, writing, collecting and art are outlawed.
The V&A’s new exhibition, Sky Arts Ignition: Memory Palace transforms Kunzru’s fiction into a walk-in story. Twenty international visual art practitioners have created work responding to passages from the dystopian book, creating a multi-dimensional, immersive experience in which to ponder the significance of memory for civilisation.
So what can you expect? Firstly, architect C.J. Lim has designed the structure of the exhibition, quite literally, as a palace of memories. The central space contains the narrative spine of the story, while a series of individual rooms leading off it visualise the world of the text’s imprisoned protagonist and the memory fragments he cannot let go.
Pieces you’ll encounter on your journey range from a detailed illustration of the prisoner’s cell by Frank Laws, to Tel-Aviv based Oded Ezer, an experimental typographer who has interpreted a series of the character’s misremembered definitions. Drawings by Paris-based illustrator Nemo Tral reflect on growing up in the ruins of the Olympic Park, while large-scale installations by Erik Kessels ruminate on advertising and recycling.
Finally, Irish graphic designer Johnny Kelly takes Memory Palace beyond the museum space, by capturing visitors’ memories and allowing anyone to contribute to a growing Memory Bank.
Which brings us to the question: if you could keep only one memory, what would it be?
Sky Arts Ignition: Memory Palace runs from 18 June-20 October 2013 at V&A, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL, in partnership with Sky Arts. Tickets cost £6, please check the website for more details and bookings.