What If You Could Explore Their Memories
Promesa invites us to experience another’s memories in a digital world
“You see, I’ve reached an age where I’m trying to make all that I know not slip away”
A dialog between a grandfather and his grandchild. Rather, a monologue, since grandchild is you. This is an immensely important fact. Life is moving along, the time is flowing, the fates are emerging and disappearing in the darkness.
Julián Palacios Gechtman, a visual artist and member of Milan-based multimedia art group Eremo, tells a very personal story in his video game (perhaps it could more accurately be described as a transmedia experience).
You enter dreamlike dioramas and explore the world of memories. Memories from an old man. Memories which are about to vanish — with time, and then with life. These memories are the illuminated places enveloped in endless fog; the space that is not accessible or relevant. It’s the forgotten.
You are ghostlike. No reflection in mirrors, moving through objects, floating from scene-to-scene across a long life.
Photos are scattered around. Family portraits have unrecognisable faces. Is it because of the game’s pixelated art style, or because these people are about to dissolve into the forgotten realm? The game’s art style is also its narrative.
You experience the vividness of the city…
…the impressionist heartbeat…
…symbolic surrealism à la De Chirico…
There are so many seemingly-conflicting styles and visions here. You are exploring the dispersed splinters of a person’s past, present…and future?
S̶u̶d̶d̶e̶n̶l̶y̶. No, nothing is sudden here. You may (or may not) notice the perspective change. It is narrative, and it is physical. The camera is now at the height of a child’s eyes. Dazzling sun streams through the windows. And there’s that shiny golden bicycle almost glowing in the kitchen.
It’s about you — it’s about everybody — who is growing up, becoming an adult, and then embracing the final moments of life where you realise the sky is deep and breath is hard.
Lois Lowry in his book “The Giver” emphasises the emergency of rescuing memories:
The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.
Fortunately, the old man shares his memories with his grandchild, and he shares them with us — the world. We become part of this wonderful, difficult, long, and unknown life.
Climbing stairs, looking out windows, staring at the sky — all these experiences are components of your inner world, and here they are, made accessible to others.
Promesa is a family album; it is immersive, breathtaking, and universal. It is at once the story of a particular family — but it’s also your story, because you, like everyone else, will eventually lose your precious memories.
Memories are ultimately private and ephemeral in nature. Even if we’ve shared an experience with another, each of us have our own distinct memories of that moment. These threads live within our minds as a delicate patchwork of subjectivity — but they are finite. Over time, we add to that increasingly-brittle patchwork. Old threads begin to fall away. Sometimes entire patches collapse into the darkness long before we take our final breath.
Promesa invites us to do the impossible, by taking us on a journey into the memories of another, by endlessly multiplying a singular subjective experience so that it can be shared and cherished forever, long after we’re gone.