The Magnificent Memories Machine. Image (C) Elisa von Brockdorff.

The Magnificent Memories Machine: Preserving memories and our ancestral history

By Francesca Attard

The creation of a library of memories - this is the aim behind the Magnificent Memories Machine.  

The concept was created and developed by the artistic director Andrew Alamango. This is a project to digitise old photographs, video tapes, audio cassettes, vinyl and film from the 20th century.                                                                                                                                                                  

"This project revolves around the preservation of memories - our Maltese culture, the value that we give to our heritage, and the trust that we have built with the people," says Alamango. "The Magnificent Memories Machine is a reflection of the lives and experiences of the people. From what we have collected and digitised so far, we have been able to exhibit and expose the lives of the people on an artistic level."

This project has run throughout the year. People all around Malta and Gozo have dug into their homes to digitise what they have found. Themes include family history and heritage, music and dance, feasts and celebrations, landscapes and environment, extraordinary events and individuals.

 "The 20th century was a very important age historically because, thanks to technology, we were able to document our daily lives," Alamango says. "Within an international domain, technology has given us access to audio-visual documentation."

By rediscovering things that had been forgotten, we recollect our history and preserve it for future generations to revisit. Thanks to technology and the Magnificent Memories Machine we tap into a treasure trove of memories. 

"A lot has already been lost,’ says Alamango. "But from what has been preserved through research and findings, and thanks to the Maltese citizens who have entrusted their family heritage to us, we are now able to visually witness and hear events from the past. It is in our interest to see our heritage, appreciate it and identify ourselves with it." 

But the project itself isn’t the only piece of art. The Magnificent Memories Machine itself is an incredible assembly of old parts, a visual representation of a journey to the past. 

It is an inspiring project, not only for our community but for whoever might be interested in starting their own personal collection. 

Why not try and search inside your family’s home and see what you can find, or in your grandparents’ attic? Explore – and you might find hidden treasures that have been forgotten for decades. 

This project aims to give a second chance to the elderly to reconnect with their past, at the same time as opening a doorway for the younger generation to explore, learn and appreciate. The message that runs through it is: If it was not for our ancestors, we would not be living in the world we are living in today. It may not be perfect, but we have come so far. It calls for us to keep aiming higher, towards a better future, while still remembering where we came from. 

Alamango and The Magnificent Memories team hope to widen their horizons in the near future. Their aim is to travel to Australia and Canada to meet Maltese citizens who emigrated to these countries. With their collaboration, they hope to find more memories that belong to our past culture and heritage.


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