College of Communications and Fine Arts Art Museum of the University of Memphis
The Porcupine Effect

Artist statement / Sunny Montgomery / The Porcupine Effect

I approach the five spaces of Caseworks as rooms where things happen rather than miniature galleries.  The opportunity to investigate these rooms coincides with reading about the brain, or more specifically how learning causes physical changes in the brain.  The Art of Memory, a memory system (the idea for which is credited to Greek poet Simonides) in which objects representing ideas or memories are placed within a real or imagined physical space – a “Memory Palace” or “Theatre of Memory.”  The space and the objects only exist in one’s mind.  One then can ‘walk’ through the mental space at leisure – examining objects and recalling memories.  The process by which memories are linked to spatial places cements them in the mind.  The fascinating bit, as John Crowley describes in his novel Little, Big, is that seemingly unrelated memories/ideas/objects tend to interact on their own:

“…it can happen—if you practice this art—that the symbols you put next to one another will modify themselves without your choosing it, and that when next you call them forth, they may say something new and revelatory to you, something you didn’t know you knew.  Out of the proper arrangement of what you do know, what you don’t may arise spontaneously.  That’s the advantage of a system.  Memory is fluid and vague.  Systems are precise and articulated.  Reason apprehends them better.”


Teeth, detail from Sunny Montgomery's CASEWORKS exhibition view here

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Last Updated: 2/5/14