new-york

View of “Ellie Ga,” 2014.

Ellie Ga

Bureau

View of “Ellie Ga,” 2014.

What to call it? A preface? A primer? An afterimage? In the corridor leading into, or out of, Ellie Ga’s three-channel video installation Four Thousand Blocks, 2013–14, hung a single white sheet bearing the impress of a text, faintly legible in raking light. It told the story of Thoth, the ibis-headed god who offers an Egyptian king the technology of writing, which, he promises, “will make humans wiser and improve their memories.” The king quickly corrects him. “What you have discovered is not the recipe for memory, but the drug of reminding,” he pronounces. “With your invention, they will be taught, but they will not be wise.” Familiar to philosophy undergrads from Plato’s Phaedrus, and to comp-lit grads from Derrida’s “Plato’s Pharmacy,”this myth underpins much of today’s grumbling over Wikipedia and Siri. If we entrust our memories to external supplements, the king laments,

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