How do we remember? Let us count the ways


The University of Michigan is driving an in-depth, cross-disciplinary audit of its campus: the land it sits upon, the historical figures it commemorates and how the campus community does, or should, remember at U-M.

Whether it be through an augmented-reality representation of underrecognized women and their contributions to the campus as we know it, Native American and settler voices discussing the place of the U.S. university in colonial histories and futures, or digital engrams and how the ways we remember in the 21st century might shock Aristotle, no stone will be left unturned.

Projects that encompass this effort are:

Melanie Manos

“HerView: Visualizing Women’s Work”

Photo of Melanie Manos
Melanie Manos

Melanie Manos, the Janie Paul Collegiate Lecturer and a lecturer IV in the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, will unveil the U-M campus portion of her augmented reality project, “HerView: Visualizing Women’s Work,” during the Memory & Monuments Open House.

Through this work, Manos has set out to explore the use of art media for social justice and investigate how public art can be used to redress historic gender bias.

Manos is one of eight Public Art & Engagement Fellows selected to work with Paul Farber, founder of the Philadelphia-based Monument Lab and inaugural curator in residence for the U-M Arts Initiative.

Monument Lab facilitates critical conversations around the past, present and future of monuments and collective memory.

With only a few monuments on the U-M campus, Manos uses buildings — the Law Library, Detroit Observatory and Michigan League, specifically — as her historical touchpoints. Using a smartphone to access a QR code, users can view an interactive AR representation of a woman from U-M’s history and the contributions she made to that building or time period that have been underrecognized.

Manos has plans to expand the project to monuments across Detroit.

The project, and more from additional fellows, will be discussed at the Memory & Monuments Open House on Oct. 26-28 at the U-M Museum of Art. The event is free and open to the public.

Photo of a statue before and after it is viewed through the AR-augmented HerView process
This photo shows how a statue is viewed using a smartphone via the augmented-reality “HerView” process, and what viewers will see by using the process. (Photo courtesy of Melanie Manos)

Andrew Herscher

“Under the Campus, the Land”

Photo of Andrew Herscher
Andrew Herscher

Andrew Herscher, professor of architecture in the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning and professor of history of art in LSA, has organized a set of public conversations, “Under the Campus, the Land.”

Native American and settler voices will gather to speak to and about the university around four themes: reckoning with the settler university, advancing Native student activism, investigating university land and making amends to the land.

The conversations will take place in conjunction with two exhibitions at UMMA: “Andrea Carlson’s Future Cache,” which commemorates the Cheboiganing Band of Ottawa and Chippewa people who were violently displaced from land in northern Michigan now owned by U-M, and Cannupa Hanska Luger’s “You’re Welcome,” which explores histories and narratives of land occupied by U-M.

“Under the Campus, the Land” takes place Oct. 27-28 and is free and open to the public.

Gabriela Ruiz

“Digital Engrams”

Photo of Gabriela Ruiz
Gabriela Ruiz

The latest exhibition at the Humanities Gallery, Gabriela Ruiz’s “Digital Engrams,” looks at how much has changed in the 21st century version of “remembering.”

Memories that might be formed in “unplugged” spaces are immediately uploaded, edited and shared. Rather than relying on our minds to recall details and feelings, we can easily turn to photo evidence and to-the-minute updates of lived experiences.

Ruiz, the Jean Yokes Woodhead Visiting Artist at the Institute for the Humanities, asks, “Does this impact our ability to remember and our own sense of direction in the process?”

“Digital Engrams” opens Nov. 2 and is free and open to the public. The Humanities Gallery is located at 202 S. Thayer St.


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