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Re-mapping the world

Keith Gallasch

Maria Miranda, The Museum of Rumour Maria Miranda, The Museum of Rumour
Maria Miranda’s The Museum of Rumour manifested both online and onsite in late 2003 at the Sydney College of the Arts. The college was formerly an institution for the incarceration of the insane, established in 1886 with 630 patients, peaking with over 3000 patients in 1968 and dropping to 579 in 1988 before being closed. You’d at least expect to encounter the ghosts of rumour in this work as you wander about the building where inmates were herded to eat their meals. But there’s very little that’s literal about Miranda’s creation. Even so, associations inevitably spring to mind as you peer into a hole in the floorboards that cannot be accounted for, or at a kneeling stool, a chest of drawers or a view of a nearby spire. A headphone set guides you point to point where a voice gently coaxes your contemplations. Each reverie is followed by an exquisite if all too brief sound composition (Norie Neumark). I would have preferred the sound before the words, to let loose more associations, and then the opportunity to relish the sound again after the delivery of the text. Even so this is an interesting and unusual experience thematically reminiscent of Company in Space’s multimedia performance work The Light Room (2002), also inspired by mediaeval and renaissance mappings of space by associations, metaphor and memnonics rather than literal representation.

The website of the Museum of Rumour offers a very different experience if on a continuum. It uses the great avant-garde writer Gertrude Stein as the primary node for a network of association and influence in six frames, each with a life of its own, aptly titled ‘degrees of separation.’ These include rumours of war, cats (feral, domestic and Tourneur’s Cat People film), the Gene-Hackman French connection, Our Lady of Coogee and a set of Steinian cups that fall and clink and spill the writer’s words. There’s also a Stein page where clicking on scrolling lines of letters triggers an acrobatic dance of words (lesbian, postmodern, writer...) and sounds. There’s also a delightful ‘Interferometer’ with an active grid that responds like an oscilloscope to the speed of rumour at your choice of drift, walk, wander, meander, lurk or float. This is a good-humoured, finely made, altogether eccentric museum that suggests different ways of archiving experience and tracing the lateral paths of memory and association.

Maria Miranda, The Museum of Rumour, Sydney College of the Arts, Dec 10-18, 2003;

RealTime issue #59 Feb-March 2004 pg. 29

© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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