I remember the first time I saw the Mona Lisa. I had a furious hangover and a wounded heart. One very much connected to the other. It was my first trip to Paris without my parents, I had just graduated from Nursing School and the world was shiny and full of possibility. I can still summon the feeling of awe, standing in front of this great masterpiece. Not just because it is a great work of art, but because of where I was positioned in that.
More recently on a trip to Austria, I visited the war museum on a whim. I found myself staring into a cabinet at a military jacket with a mottled brown stain and a hole in the front. I was a bit dazed after the previous day spent doing multiple airports, dealing with a lost bag etc. Mundane things that if you let them can take you out of the experience of travel and turn you into a bystander. I’m ashamed to admit it took more than a few minutes for what I was looking at to sink in. When it did it was like all of time and space rushed in and I was caught in that moment, looking at the shirt Archduke Franz Ferdinand was wearing when he was assassinated.
I have a friend who describes hours spent in the Rothko room at The Tate with a kind of religious wonder. We all have stories like this. I’m sure if you have read this far you have thought of at least one. The reason I’m telling them now, is that I’m reading a lot about the creation of memory, and how these experiences layer upon each other and help form our character. I’m wondering if this can ever be replicated by immersive technologies? Its going to be fun finding out!