What does history (negotiated collective memory) look like when private spaces for preserving it are made public and participatory? As the unseen shrinks in the digital age, as surveillance spreads alongside opinion-driven social media, speaking truth to power and past becomes a shared creative act.

Hacking Arts invaded the Boston Museum of Fine Arts cafeteria and erected an experimental Uncanny Cat Café. The night was joyful chaos. The Primordial Spoof was born, in the form of a #HeavyPettingZoo. Robotic cats lounged amongst hundreds of attendees, a siren’s call from the future. Art has 9 lives. #mfaMEOW.

In a night where the museum opened its history up to a new public in the heart of the 4:00 am witching hour, we opened up our own histories as well. Beloved childhood toys, all holy in memory, dotted the tables of the Uncanny Cat Café, stored together in the bellies of Kitty Surprise cats. Attendees brought these toy creatures out of the belly and into the world, and began the work of chopping digesting and remaking memories, giving these objects a next life in the series of 9. Menus offered motors and voiceboxes, hot glue and sewing kits, surgical gloves and scissors. Attendees paid in personal data, from emails to eyelashes. How many parts do we mix to form a whole? A disassembly line of sorts.

Every creature, pulled from past to present, was passed down the cafeteria assembly line and presented with a new memory by volunteer visiting seers. These new memories made their way to the Uncanny Cat lounging area to relax amongst future feline friends. Ancient and current strangeness.

Space made by Adam Haar Horowitz, Ani Liu, Pip Mothersill, Nicole L’Huillier, and Thomas Sanchez, with gratitude for support from Hasbro and the Council for the Arts at MIT.

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