Traversing Memory: the last days of the old Mangere bridge
We rely very heavily on things, environments, or people external from ourselves to preserve our own memories. Mnemonic reminders, whether they are visual, aural, olfactory, or tactile, reinforce our memories, strengthening neural pathways. The removal of reminders through the destruction or disintegration of an environment that might have scaffolded mental processing could very likely cause the destruction or disintegration of the memories themselves.
In his book, Spatial Recall: Memory in Architecture and Landscape, Professor Marc Treib argues that built structures both hold and project memories.1 Pieces of architecture and infrastructure become repositories into which both deposits and withdrawals can be made. Treib sees the built environment as a memory bank for both individual and communal use.
Auckland city’s Old Mangere Bridge, in the Manukau Harbour, is a mnemonic device that offers communities, as well as individuals, an opportunity to recall and preserve memories of the area. As the bridge falls into disrepair and faces demolition, associated memories for communities and generations of people could well be lost.
This thesis offers a spatial intervention that attempts to foster and retain memories long after the old bridge is gone. Through an iterative drawing practice and the collection of both individual and community memories of the Old Mangere Bridge, I intend to construct a site-specific spatial provocation with two memory related outcomes. Firstly, the piece will attempt to stimulate recollections of the area, strengthening both individual and collective memory pathways, fostering old and new memories. Secondly, the installation intends to illustrate the temporality of both built structures and memory.
1 Marc Treib, “Yes, Now I Remember: An Introduction,” in Spatial Recall: Memory in Architecture and Landscape (New York; London: Routledge, 2009), x–xv.