The Memory Machine


Memory Machine

The Memory Machine was an interactive installation which was developed in collaboration with Nye Parry. It had two different manifestations in 2002 and 2003. In each case The Memory Machine played out a changing composition of sonic material specifically chosen to trigger individual memories in the listener. These memories were then recorded into The Memory Machine and became part of the ongoing musical mix that in turn both triggered more memories and were recorded as an memory archive. The changing composition comprised different memories being released into the mix and, as they repeated at various intervals, different processes were applied to them so that as time went on they became fragmented, semantically indistinct and the musicality of the speech became increasingly emphasised in an attempt to mirror some of the workings of individual memory.

Memory machine invite










In 2003 The Memory Machine was part of the British Museum’s 250th anniversary exhibition ‘The Museum of the Mind: Art and Memory in World Cultures’ and developed as a multi-channel installation with the exhibition’s curator, John Mack. The memories were recorded through a telephone and played through speakers at the entrance and exit of  the exhibition. The British Museum were keen to collect a sound archive of people’s individual memories of the museum. These were added to our initial  interviews with various members of the museum staff and over the 6 months of the exhibition ‘The Memory Machine’ collected over 8,000 one minute memories.


Lane, Cathy and Parry, Nye (2005) The Memory Machine: sound and memory at the British Museum. Organised Sound, 10 (2). pp. 141-148. ISSN 13557718