Artificial Ignorance

It sounds paradoxal: the goal of my graduation project is to design digital forgetting in order to stimulate human remembering.

We’re currently all living with Digital Hyperthymesia, a condition created by technological developments and changes in cultural perspectives, which enable us with an unlimited, unforgetting digital memory to outsource our own memory processes onto.

And yet, human memory consists of a duality of remembering and forgetting. So the effect of perfect external memory, will have harmfull consequences on the active method of human remembering. This inspired Artificial Ignorance – a program that offers a digital equivalent of ‘forgetting’. The program uses photos of the user’s external memory to find visually similar internet images, and save these onto the external memory. The new images serve as ‘memory cues’ to stimulate active remembering by mind, as an alternative to the passive display of digital documentation.

Artificial Ignorance from Tanne van Bree on Vimeo.

The Artificial Ignorance application was available for download until september 2015. The original version became incompatible with current technical standards.


To communicate the functionality of the Artificial Ignorance application I made an interactive installation which displays a number of the results generated by AI. It consists of a photo album with printed and projected pictures. The printed pictures are photos that were used as input from participants for the AI script. The projected pictures are the results of AI, the visually similar images AI collected from the internet. The spectator can flip through the pages of the album and see actual input and output of AI, so in a way this photoalbum is a catalogue of the content of AI.

TannevanBree_Evolving Digital Hyperthymesia_MAinformation 2014_CUMLAUDE_LisaKlappe
Artificial Ignorance presentation. Photographer: Lisa Klappe, copyright Design Academy Eindhoven.