|My annotated room sheet|
In a nutshell, Hunzru wrote a dystopian future in which a magnetic storm wipes out all digital technology. Due to our current dependence on this technology to record and store information, ‘memory’ ceases to exist, human knowledge is lost. Chaos ensues. A fascist regime outlaw recording, writing, art and collecting anything at all, hoping to push the human race back to a purely animal existence – a future anticipated by the term ‘The Wilding’. The imprisoned narrator is part of an underground sect, or ‘internet’ – the story is filled with often amusing misinterpretations of contemporary places, things and concepts. Known as the Memorialists, this sect have revived the lost ‘art of memory’ and strive to remember as much as they can of the past as a form of resistance. The narrator does his part to fight the regime by transforming his cell into a ‘memory palace’, a mnemonic technique in which you visualise a building/space and place the things you need to remember as ‘objects’ within that space. Before he is executed, he passes the information from his memory palace to a resistance spy, who will pass it on to other members of the sect.
The 20 designer/illustrators were each assigned a passage of the text and briefed to respond to it ‘freely’, incorporating as much or as little of the writing as they wanted. However the curators paired passages with practitioners carefully. For example, as designers of information graphics, Francesco Franchi and Stefanie Posavec were each assigned passages that establish the complex context of the fictional world, whereas passages heavy with dialogue were assigned to illustrators with backgrounds in graphic novels and children’s books.