Cycles of Memory


Institute on the Formation of Knowledge
University of Chicago
5737 South University Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637

October 24 to June 21, 2019
Re-opening and dedication reception May 20, 5-7 PM

          As we experience life events our memories expand and change. We accommodate new information by modifying older data. When we recollect previous events, our memories are modified by our current concerns. Memories cycle from current to past, with recollections being continuously altered.

          This exhibit consists of three parts. The Whirling Memory pieces rotate at three revolutions per minute. Each is 8 x 4 feet in size, printed on semitransparent media so that the images are visible from both sides. The uppermost piece is Donelaitis, the middle one is My Dream–deals with a transcendental dream that I had, and the lower piece is Beckett / Kafka—these two authors had a profound influence on my art. Their images were taken from mirror portraits that I made in 1978. These three pieces whirl, as our own memories cycle.       

          On the second floor is Midwest Souls. The third part is Pillars of Thought—9 LED color-changing sculptures. They are free-standing, independent structures, paralleling our own human existence.

          The images consist of neuronal profiles, intertwined with my own MRI brain scans, electroencephalograms, and transformations of my own art work. It is from these extensive, overlapping neuronal networks that our consciousness, being, and independence arise.

          From this self-awareness we illuminate ourselves and others. We can shine, inform, educate and assist each other. Each piece is a portrait of human aspiration, as it cycles through phases of color, moods and memories.

          In this installation, there are groupings paralleling our own societal structures. The Dreamscape sequence deals with the origins of dreaming, fantasy, and creativity. The Pillars of Writing include the hand-written texts, and portraits, by those authors who have had a profound influence on my art work, from Sigmund Freud to the existentialism of Franz Kafka and Samuel Beckett.

          Each Pillar consists of three layers of polycarbonate, back-light by a LED color-changing lights. As the transmitted colors change, the images change dramatically.

          The three layers of images correspond to our own three levels of awareness: consciousness, sub-consciousness and unconsciousness.

         “While scientific, then, these images are not antiseptic.  The brain interacts with memory and perception, and what emerges is art.  The formation of personhood and the absorption of information become striking images that merge the scientific, the personal, and the cultural.  That is an unusual trio.  This is another reason why we at the Institute fell in love with the art of Audrius Plioplys.” Shadi Bartsch Zimmer, Director of the Institute on the Formation of Knowledge, University of Chicago, October 24, 2018.