We are all drifting through time and space, some for longer and with more intention than others but all are on a journey of unclear beginnings and uncertain endings. Some of the most meaningful moments of our lives — connecting with another mind, exchanging intellectual and emotional energy — can leave little trace, even though they shape who we are, what we do, and what we create.
Letters are a crude but robust form of both space and time travel: for all of human history, and until recently, letters were the main way that humans crossed space to speak to each other at a distance; afterwards, they become records of conversations, moments, and relationships for future generations, and the authors themselves, to gaze back upon. Part of the robustness of the letter comes from its formality, they stand alone while being designed to construct a conversation. Unlike the essay, a letter is a gift with a particular receiver in mind; it is imbued with the warmth and generosity of the human relationship that created it, and leaves room for the reader to enter and receive it on their own terms.
Reading the correspondence of others has given me a sense of familiarity with an intellectual process and comradery that was at once foreign and familiar. Two great examples of this in the games scene have been Leigh Alexander’s letter series with Kirk Hamilton about Final Fantasy VII and Deus Ex, and the what-feminism-means-to-me-as-a-woman-in-games letter series Dear Mitu, Dear Emily.
It is with these inspirations in mind that we launch a new type of content at Memory Insufficient: a series of semi-regular (~one every other month) letter exchanges between myself and a special guest pen-pal. Each chain of letters will orbit a single, timely topic — something that has been weighing on my mind, or the subject of much discussion on Twitter.
We see this as another form of historical practice in the present, akin to anthropological field notes: a new expression of our intent to recenter histories and narratives that get left behind. In games and new media, interviews or post mortems are often our only view into this sort of process, and they are typically recorded after the work has been completed, constructing a narrative about the past that serves the interests of the present.
It is the hope of a field observer to take these documents forward in the years to come, as material for analysing what it was like to experience a context in time and space. When years from now we think about how games and play have changed, we do not want to be reliant on memory alone.
Claris Cyarron, creative director at Memory Insufficient
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