Nork Magazine in our February Secret Mag Club
text and illustrations by Maria Vittoria Navati
It has happened to each of us, at least once, to come across a photograph of a distant relative, passed away when we were only a few years old. Looking at the shot, we realize we still remember that face and the grimace on his face is even familiar to us. The truth is, we have no idea who he really was. The image can only offer us a vague idea of the world in which that person existed. A reality in which the telephone was still a disc, the sofa was not Ikea branded and the cigarettes were stored in metal packages. Who number six is about this: di memory.
Nork is a magazine of art, culture and society. It is produced in Norway, in Tromsø, and represents a point of view on the world above the Arctic Circle. It tells a portion of humanity that emanates an artistic and creative warmth often different from what we are used to. Yet, it is read and browsed all over the world. This happens because the magazine is an assembly of stories, that is, of powers in which the particular contains the universal. Nork takes the opportunity to talk about the human condition by narrating absolutely common but personal events - those that may seem banal on the surface.
The sixth issue of the magazine is a memory book-style project, with interactive pages to fill out. Write three words that describe you. Where are you now? Where would you like to be? What is your earliest memory? What perfume or smell has the power to take you back in time? These are just some of the many ideas that support the magazine and that perhaps some of us will have already met. On the other hand, who has never owned such an object? Impossible to forget those notebooks that we filled with questions, to then distribute them to friends, so that they could write their sincere answers and we could step into their lives little by little. Those notebooks, filled with the thoughts and secrets of a childhood, kept as precious treasures and untouchable by anyone but ourselves, today constitute fascinating time capsules. With Nork we can go back to leafing through those pages, bringing back to life distant moments, between likes and dislikes, sweet and innocent declarations and first disappointments. Because, as the editorial explains, even though we are more used to asking profound questions every day, we must not forget that the most significant answers can be hidden behind rather simple questions.
The eleven stories that make up the magazine are preceded by a double page announcing the number, in a manner consistent with the desire to construct a narrative marked by episodes expertly linked by a single thread.
The first story introduces a recurring theme of this volume: technology and the influence it can have on our memories. Today we can claim to have two different memories. We are endowed with a memory that triggers emotions and thoughts that confuse space and time and which, although imperfect, are nevertheless perceived as resembling reality. Then there is a second memory, artificial, intangible, but capable of penetrating deeply into physical reality. It consists of the set of data that we disperse online, and is, unlike the first, an exact testimony of what we have done or faced. We can thus observe in detail digital documents from our past: the history of a Google search or the notification "You have a new memory" of our iPhone. However, these visible memories do not take into account a fundamental piece: technology has no idea what really happened in those moments. Those luminous proofs, therefore, remain nothing but moments eternally crystallized by a screen. Everything else is ignored. We might wonder, then, why we are constantly being pushed to leave traces. The answer has much more to do with time than we imagine and can be found in our selfish but wonderfully honest quest for immortality. Putting aside any type of cult or faith, the only life in the afterlife of which we can be sure is the presence of our memory in people's minds. Since the only way to achieve a life almost eternal is found in the heads of others, we are constantly pushed to create, to leave testimonies and the God of technology, in this, comes to our aid.
Nonetheless, it happens that we feel in conflict with our devices. Even more often, however, it happens to feel suspicious. Why does something that was designed to simplify our lives seem creepy or, worse, alien to us? The distrust we often experience comes from the fear that the prospect of an entirely automated existence causes. Although an increasing number of people decide to improve their daily lives by resorting to technology, the latter continues to fail in eliminating the fear that artificial intelligence may know too much about us.
Here is story number three raises a question: does it really make sense to surround ourselves with devices designed to carry out actions that we could do ourselves, with a little more will? What if, instead, the way to go was that of a balanced coexistence between individuals in search of well-being and a technology oriented towards sustainability? The relationship between memory and technology is therefore investigated from an artistic point of view, with reference to the photographic medium.
As the tenth story explains, the confidence we feel in any one shot is without exception unwarranted. The nature of photography, in fact, is incomplete: we cannot really believe what is depicted because the story behind it is also incomplete. How many details have been omitted from the point of view or perspective? How can we know that this is not a staging? Culturally, we are inclined to consider an image as a testimony of what the world was like when it was created. What we are offered, however, is nothing more than an interpretation we decide to believe. There is no single objective truth or a single true story. Only all plausible versions, if considered simultaneously, allow us to approach reality, albeit in an approximate way. Ultimately, even the memories themselves can be fictitious in nature. Events, history and personal memories are subject to profound and incessant change. If this can be intimidating or disorienting, on the other hand it generates identity freedom.
All of Nork's tales are then a single great story, spread over a total balance between text - a mix of fiction, poetry and diary - and images, or rather, collages, composition games, scribbles and original illustrations. The magazine talks about memory by combining fiction and reality to create a fantastic atmosphere from which we cannot fail to be transported. Because nothing in this project is obvious or obvious.
Find Nork # 6 WHO