Home / Art / InstallationImmersive Installation Chronicles Humanity’s Past and Present While Challenging Us to Think of the Future

Immersive Installation Chronicles Humanity’s Past and Present While Challenging Us to Think of the Future

3D Map Art by Es Devlin

Photo: Peter Mallet

Artist and stage designer Es Devlin explores the evolution of human thought and history in her sprawling installation titled Memory Palace. The massive, immersive work recently concluded its showing at London’s Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery where it filled their space with a chronological landscape that plotted “pivotal shifts in human perspective” from the beginning of our history to the present day.

The monochromatic space was constructed in a rounded room equipped with mirrors to multiply the area and produce the illusion that the viewer was standing on the edge of the world. Along its surface were symbols of these momentous events carved out of bamboo. Some of the memories included were: the first cave drawings in southern Africa; Nicolaus Copernicus drawing the first heliocentric map of the universe in 1543; Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus in 1955; and Greta Thunberg and her climate change strike in 2018.

Fittingly, Memory Palace was inspired by Devlin’s past. “When I was a child I lived next door to a 1:100 scale model of my town which performed a ‘son et lumiere’ show,” she explained in a statement. “The windows of individual buildings would illuminate to locate stories told in voiceover. In a way, it was a memory palace in action: ideas, words and sounds indexed within physical architecture: I never forgot any of those stories as each was indelibly etched into the buildings I passed daily.”

Ultimately, Devlin is the editor of the events included in her installation. While the viewer may not have agreed with what she presented, it’s hard to argue with what she believes is the most profound change that humans must make next. “It’s the shift we are now beginning to undertake as we re-evaluate all of our practices in the light of the climate crisis. It’s my hope that, surrounded by the traces of our historical leaps of imagination, the viewer will feel a sense of possibility that our species can achieve another momentous collective shift of perspective.”

Artist and stage designer Es Devlin explores the evolution of human history and thought in her immersive art installation titled Memory Palace.

Immersive Art Installation by Es Devlin

Photo: Peter Mallet

3D Map Art by Es Devlin

Photo: Peter Mallet

Immersive Art Installation by Es Devlin

Photo: Peter Mallet

The mirrored room, which recently concluded a showing at the Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery, has elements carved from bamboo.

Memory Palace Art Map by Es Devlin

Photo: Peter Mallet

It depicted events from the first cave paintings all the way to Greta Thunberg and her climate change strike in 2018.

3D Map Art by Es Devlin

Photo: Peter Mallet

Immersive Art Installation by Es Devlin

Photo: Peter Mallet

3D Map Art by Es Devlin

Photo: Peter Mallet

Immersive Art Installation by Es Devlin

Photo: Peter Mallet

Es Devlin: Website | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Es Devlin.

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, WA. She chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. Sara wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.

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