Sybils: Cycles of Memory

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

October 24 to June 21, 2019

Dedication and reception May 20, 5-7 PM.

Space is limited–please RSVP by clicking here.

        My Cycles of Memory art installation has been so popular on the University of Chicago campus, that the Institute on the Formation of Thought requested that I donate four LED light sculptures for permanent display. These pieces, all from the Columns of Writing series, are visible through the glass front of the building and are stunning, particularly at night.

        In gratitude the University will be naming this building’s three-story tall entrance foyer the Sigita and Audrius Plioplys Atrium.

        This is a tremendous honor for my dear wife and myself.

        Also, a portion of this installation has been re-done and re-installed. These new pieces deal with the existential writings of Samuel Becket and Franz Kafka, and the oracular prophecies of the ancient-world Sybils.

        You are most cordially invited to attend the dedication reception.



        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 deals with the writings of Samuel Beckett and Franz Kafka. Both of these authors were sources of inspiration when I started my artistic journey.  Their images were taken from mirror portraits that I made in 1978. Two lower two pieces deal with the oracular abilities of the Sybils. Underlying their prophetic words are details from my Metamorphosis series of art works. 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.