V&A Memory Palace Exhibition

by Francesco Franchi

Historical panorama tracking western theories about the art of memory designed for Memory Palace Exhibition at V&A Museum, London

18 June — 20 October 2013

The Ancient Greeks created an elaborate memory system, based on a technique of impressing ‘places’ and ‘images’ (loci and imagines) on the mind. It has usually been classed as ‘mnemothechnics’, which in modern times seems a rather unimportant branch of human activity. In the ages before printing a trained memory was vitally important; and the manipulation of images in memory must always to some extent involve the psyche as a whole. Moreover an art which uses contemporary architecture for its memory places and contemporary imagery for its images will have its classical, Gothic and Renaissance periods, like the other arts. Inherited and recorded by Romans, this art of memory passed into the European tradition, to be revived in occult form at the Renaissance, and in particular by the strange and remarkable genius Giordano Bruno. Aside from its intrinsic fascination, the Art of Memory is an invaluable contribution to aesthetics and psychology, and to the history of philosophy, science and literature.

‘Here is how to remember. First you must choose a place. You walk around it, impressing every detail on your memory, until you can tour it in your mind when you are not there’.

I have visually responded to the idea of the memory palace in the form of an infographic print. Conducting extensive research into the history of mnemonics I have skilfully distilled the chronological development of practice of the art of memory in a captivating and rational way.

© Francesco Franchi, 2013

Sky Arts Ignition: Memory Palace

Installation images at the V&A
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London