I had the most exciting surprise on a visit to The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) – it has a Japanese narrative scroll on display.
I am convinced a contemporary form of these artworks could be a wonderful memory device to use in education. These long scrolls from China, Japan and Korea (that I know of so far) tell stories through the most gorgeous images.
I remember from my studies in education and from experience in the classroom that mode shifts aid memory massively. A mode shift is basically taking information in one format and changing that format when recording it. That change forces you to engage deeply with the information. You can read and take notes without really concentrating, but if you have to change written information into images, or aural information into your own words, or written information into song, then you will remember it.
I believe that changing information into a narrative in pictures would work a treat, adding a scene for each stage in a knowledge narrative. There are some written annotations as well. The narrative could be done in quick sketches or, even more wonderfully, a beautifully illustrated scroll. I am planning to do contemporary versions in My Memory Experiments.
You really need to engage with a scroll to know what is going on. They were carefully preserved in boxes and brought out to be ‘read’ as they were slowly unrolled, exposing only a small portion at any time. They were (are!) a much more intimate art experience than something fully exposed on a wall.
The NGV scroll is over eleven metres long. Below is a detail from it along with its little sign. There is a bit more on the NGV website.
I first saw a Chinese narrative scroll, also called a handscroll, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York about a decade ago and have been longing to find out more ever since. I saw them again on a more recent trip and was more delighted by them than ever. I had no idea we had one in Australia – I suspect there are more for me to stumble over. I sincerely hope so!