Lest we forget

This week’s PrintScreen Festival at the Holon Cinematheque takes a closer look at how the human memory is faring in the digital era.

‘Many Worlds’ is the world’s first movie whose storyline is controlled by the reactions of the people in the audience. (photo credit: ALEXIS KIRKE)
‘Many Worlds’ is the world’s first movie whose storyline is controlled by the reactions of the people in the audience.
(photo credit: ALEXIS KIRKE)
Judging by the program of this year’s Print Screen Festival, which starts today at the Holon Cinematheque, the technophobes among us might have even more reason for concern at the prospect of ever more powerful high-tech innovations.
The fourth edition of the cultural digital event, which spotlights the interfaces between the world of art, design and digital technology, offers an intriguing look at some of the entertainment vehicles emerging over the horizon, including some which draw the spectator into the thick of things. There are movies, lectures, panel discussions, shows, exhibitions and workshops in the lineup that cover numerous bases.
This year’s festival is called Forget it! and poses the question of whether we still have the ability to forget, and to be forgotten, in a world of overwhelming documentation.
“The expression ‘the ability to forget’ is a bit misleading because, on the one hand, we believe that the ability to undergo a process of forgetting has been significantly harmed because we are surrounded by something like an omnipotent memory. We live in strange times,” notes festival artistic director Lior Zalmanson. “Every aspect of our lives and every snippet of information are recorded, stored and documented somewhere on the Internet.”
However, that does not mean we are constantly conscious of everything we have experienced and accumulated up to the here-and-now.
“On the other hand, the images and data that swamps us results in a situation where - by, in practice, almost all the information is forgotten. We entrust the digital tools and the devices that control them with exclusive responsibility for our memories. This year’s festival addresses this issue in a creative way, through art, cinema, games, encounters and interactive experiences.”
Information retention/loss is also the theme of an interactive exhibition which goes by the somewhat intimidating name of All That You Love Will Be Taken Away.
The slot comprises five creations from the New Media program of the New Fund for Cinema and Television which address the processing and loss of data in the digital era and take the viewer on a magical mystery tour along virtual highways and byways.
The artists behind the works include Ohad Fishoff, Ayelet Albandeh, Denil Olmanski and Deganit Elyakim.
There is an impressive slew of big screen entertainment on offer too. Bobby Boermans’s 2013 thriller App, in which a psychology student is drawn into the dark world of a nefarious and mysterious soft - ware application which terrorizes her by circulating compromising information about her, and succeeds in uncovering her innermost secrets.
Anyone anxious about getting hooked on computers, and computer games in particular, should really get themselves along to the Holon Cinematheque to watch Love Child . The documentary, by Valerie Veatch, relates the horrifying story of a young couple in South Korea who were so engrossed in an online game of raising a virtual child that they forgot their own baby, who eventually died of neglect.
Many Worlds takes spectator entertainment to a new plane. It is the world’s first movie whose storyline is controlled by the reactions of the people in the audience. This is the first screening of the film out - side the United Kingdom. It was written, directed and soundtracked by Alexis Kirke, who will attend the festival.
Many Worlds is about a lethal physics experiment carried out by a down-in-the-mouth birthday girl.
The way the story pans out can alter according to the responses of four preselected members of the audience, who are connected to biosensors. The sensors react to changes in the viewers’ brain activity, heartbeat and perspiration to impact the eventual fate of the main character. If the concept takes off it could transform the way we experience cinematic entertainment.
Other screenings include 1998 cult sci-fi film Dark City, starring Kiefer Sutherland, in which the hero struggles to dredge up details of his forgotten past, and there is a special 10th anniversary screening of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, starring Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet and Tom Wilkinson, about a couple who voluntary undergo memory erasure when their relationship hits the rocks.
Mind you, the way things are going in terms of our dependence on technology for information retrieval, a few generations down the evolutionary line the amount of data we retain ourselves may not be that much anyway. How many of us today, for example, remember important telephone numbers? Whereas 20 years ago many could probably call relatives and close friends without the need to consult a notebook list, very few now dial anyone, even home, without scrolling through their cell phone contacts list.
“We live with memory banks with almost unlimited capacities, but on the other hand we, in practice, outsource our own memory and utilize computerized memory facilities to remember important information for us,” notes Zalmanson.
“That poses the question of the importance of this act of remembering which is no longer carried out by our own brain.”
The big-screen entertainment is not all doom and gloom or thought-provoking – if not terrifying – scenarios. The opening lecture of the festival will be delivered by Prof. Illana Gozes of the Adams Super Center for Brain Studies, at the University of Tel Aviv. Prof. Gozes will talk about Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory , filmed by Michael Rossato-Bennet, which is based on an experiment conducted by a social worker called Dan Cohen on how music can be used to help to trigger memories and emotions among elderly people with dementia.
Elsewhere on the Print Screen program there is an unconference – or participant-driven event – on art and technology, in which artists who increasingly employ technological aids, and technology professionals who incorporate artistic elements in their work, will take part in spontaneous sessions to examine interfaces between their professional spheres.
In addition to Kirke, the other foreign guests who will present workshops and talks at the festival include Polish new media and digital artist Michal Szota, German counterpart Julian Oliver and Czech interactive artist Andrej Boleslavsky.
If you’d like to attend the Print Screen Festival it may be a good idea to make a note of it on a good old tangible piece of paper, as well as in your electronic diary.
Who knows?
For tickets and more information: (03) 502- 1555, www.cinemaholon.org.il and www.printscreenfestival.com