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Wunderkammern, Cabinets of Curiosity, and Memory Palaces

Walker Art Center Gallery 9, 2000
Julian Dibbell, Immaterial World
"A Web log really, then, is a Wunderkammer. That is to say, the genealogy of Web logs points not to the world of letters but to the early history of museums -- to the "cabinet of wonders," or Wunderkammer, that marked the scientific landscape of Renaissance modernity: a random collection of strange, compelling objects, typically compiled and owned by a learned, well-off gentleman. A set of ostrich feathers, a few rare shells, a South Pacific coral carving, a mummified mermaid -- the Wunderkammer mingled fact and legend promiscuously, reflecting European civilization's dazed and wondering attempts to assimilate the glut of physical data that science and exploration were then unleashing."

Emil Hrvatin, Drive in Camillo
"The Camillo project stems from the ideas of the newly discovered Renaissance genius, philosopher and theoretician of the art of memory, precursor of the language of installation in contemporary art and anticipator of the Internet, Giulio Camillo (1480-1544). His fundamental project, The Theatre of Memory, is one of the first attempts at interactive communication on the Internet. The Theatre of Memory was envisioned as a place where the entire knowledge of the Universe would be accessible. A continuously renewable memory machine with no limits between the past, present and future."

Terri L. Kelly, Memory Theatre
A thorough set of links to the Memory Arts.

Carl Malamud, Memory Palaces: A Millennial Metaphor?
"Spatial positioning of thoughts as an aid to memory turns out to mirror our natural thought processes of cognition."

Microcosms: Objects of Knowledge
"is a multiyear, interdisciplinary project that seeks to research comprehensively a material "economy of knowledge" within the university" of California.

Museum of Jurassic Technology
An entertaining study of a modern Wunderkammern with references to the vintage representations, can be found in Lawrence Weschler's Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology aka the Museum of Jurassic Technology.

Encyclopedia of Peter's Kunstkammer
"Peter [the Great] accumulated the first group of objects in Russia large enough to be called a collection. It formed the foundation of the "Tsar's Cabinet", and then of Peter's Kunstkammer."

Shiralee Saul, Wunderkammer: the museum on the digital shoreline
"This work is intended to function as an electronic Wunderkammer -- a cabinet of curiosities both in its organisation and its contents. Like all Wunderkammer, this one is destined to keep growing and changing. Already I can see gaps in my collection -- and whole new areas of knowledge to include in the future. Pulling together the insights and opinions of writers and thinkers from the disciplines of cartography, history, geography, arts and sciences, electronic theory etc., as well as contributions from myself, it has been an opportunity to explore the interconnections between my own current obsessions (memory, natural sciences, digital media, European history, collections, navigation and map-making)."

Janine Wong and Peter Storkerson, Hypertext and the Art of Memory
"More than computer metaphor, The Art of Memory is presented to offer insight into intelligibility. It is offered as a model for the non-text based organization of multimedia presentation: one that can provide semantic contexts within which communications are intelligible."

First published by Gallery 9/Walker Art Center, 2000.