My cat joined me, on the encouragement of Yancey, after 3 weeks on her own with food visits every 2 days from Jo and Jong in a tiny two man boat. After a further week I had no choice and returned to Ayutthaya, to two man tent with my partner, Fon and his family, they had been there for 2 months along with 70 elephants, cows, goats, buffalo and hundreds of people. They were suffering depression, anxiety and naturally, displacement.
The experience has had a huge affect on my life and those around me. Some of which is irreversible. All of which has now become memory. I recorded the experience in photos, paintings, sketches and words at the time and I will be using these to piece together a narrative, with the help of those with whom I shared this experience. The collection of thoughts, memories and experience will I hope help salve some of our wounds. The story is personal, but the it reality is as global warming creates changes in the climate and environment never before seen that this or something like this could happen to anyone. One resounding truth came from this - water is the leveller, no one escapes.
The Memory Machine
This Abstract aims to explore the mechanisms employed in recording and collating stories from material gathered during the floods in Thailand 2011 and the processes used to create an animated documentary piece.
It will explore issues of:
i) materiality in terms of personal oral history with regard to memory, authentic representation and accountability.
ii) materiality – with regard to issues of actual material loss and memorial loss caused by the events
iii) materiality - and the regard of construction medium being representative of the message
iv) the mechanics of creating a narrative from memories
Oral History, and History itself, is merely a selective interpretation of factual events reproduced with a bias. Oral history is conventionally the domain of the poor, often illiterate and uneducated. Their personal experiences, which often are shaped by the factual historical events, are often not considered or attractive in the conventional Historical account.
Thailand’s annual monsoon floods in 2011 created an unprecedented disaster with an estimated 800 million cubic metres of flood-water displacing millions of people. The events unfolded over three months, yet the media focus only brought attention to it when the capital itself was inundated. The recorded history will no doubt focus on the mismanagement of the water flow through Bangkok, as well the political repercussions resulting from this.
I too was displaced and ended up camping in Ayutthaya with 70 elephants and mahouts and their families. Their personal experiences are both epic and exhausting, as well as inventive and enduring. A microcosm of the macro events.