CULTURE       3.01.24


A PROJECT by ill-studio in partnership with slam jam

Attention Deficit Disorder Prosthetic Memory Program [ADDPMP] is a shape-shifting encyclopaedia of cultural and cognitive human knowledge networks by ILL-STUDIO and GENERAL_INDEX, in partnership with SLAM JAM. Since its launch in January 2020, ADDPMP explores a new model for knowledge production by rearranging universal information in time and space though the lens of ADHD. After Paris, Miami, Tokyo, Venice, London and Berlin, ADDPMP presented its latest installment at Spazio Maiocchi, in Milan, featuring new installations and performances. With this new edition, it’s time to ask its founder Thomas Subreville of lll-Studio some questions:


How did the Attention Deficit Disorder Prosthetic Memory Program start?


ADDPMP started as a folder in my phone: written notes, screenshots, photos and videos I didn’t want to forget. You know, we live in a world where we are bombarded with images and references all day long, making it nearly impossible to store everything in your own brain, wether implicit or explicit memory.


ADDPMP is like the USB key that contains pretty much everything that drew my attention in the last years, from science, history, literature, ancient arts, cinema and music to popular culture. In that way, ADDPMP is a sort of time capsule of our era. While its content is subjective and personal, it provides a different overview of who we are as species, sequencing parts of our humanity and history together in unexpected, unobvious ways. 


And I really like the idea that if we shoot an ADDPMP book to space, an Alien civilisation might find it in a million years from now, and will define their idea of our humanity according to its content. It’s this idea of a ‘Future Mythology’ that defines our world as a constant changing, evolving fluid space of knowledge, that really resonates with me. 


Is that what triggered you to develop ADDPMP’s shape-shifting encyclopaedia?


When Slam Jam approached us a couple of years ago, we just launched a new project called General_Index, which was sort of the ‘index page’ of Ill-Studio, showcasing references we use in the projects we do, from science to history, nature and so on. We thought it was the perfect opportunity to explore this thematic further but through various mediums. 


Honestly, encyclopaedias have always been a big part of my life. Brittanica or Universalis were the only things I’d read as a kid. Retroactively, I do realise how much they have influenced my work and way of thinking today. Encyclopaedias were the Internet before the Internet, so creating my own encyclopaedia made a lot of sense. 


Recently I showed ADDPMP Volume I to my therapist, and she pointed out how ADHD is influencing the way I function and live, but also work and think. I realised that what for a long time I believed to be an obstacle, had become a strength. Making ADHD a constructive project was somewhat one of the initial intuitive ideas behind ADDPMP, but I never thought it would go this far. So in way, maybe like all books, it has become kind of my psychological report.


But ADDPMP is as much of an introspective project as it is also a desire to share this content with other people. It was very important for me to build a project based on sharing ‘information’ and not solely ‘images’. While ADDPMP is a very visual project, it isn’t a mood-board. We live in a world that’s way too visual-oriented, where most brands seek for images that look cool when they should seek for content that makes sense. This is also a statement for Ill-Studio. We create contexts, not images. 


Unique to ADDPMP is the connection between science, nature and history with contemporary culture. How do you see this relationship evolve? 


Nature informs science, science shapes society and society defines culture. In that order. Nature created sound waves, science provided synthesizers and society produced Techno. This formula will never change. You can look at electron microscope imagery the same way you look at a Gerhard Richter painting. It’s only a question of perception and romance. 


This process, or knowledge chain, is one of the main ideas behind ADDPMP. Its content isn’t at all artistic but the way it is presented makes you look at it from a new angle. I believe that shifting the context around nature and science can make people look at it from a different perspective. And I believe that’s key for our future. 


In that way ADDPMP offers a subjective look at human knowledge and legacy. The associations in the books are all a proposition, like a 'fluid knowledge,’ an arbitrary take on significant political, socio-economic, and scientific elements of history, from the beginning of time to the current contemporary period we are in today. Through the personal collage of connections, ADDPMP becomes a sort of instant erudition. But it has no intention picturing humanity as a whole, or proposing new facts. It is about rearranging ‘human legacy’ in time and space through different formats and mediums. Providing a new understanding of who we are, and can be.



Can knowledge shape community? 


It already does, I think. But most importantly, curiosity can shape community. If I was in charge of education there would be 'curiosity classes’ at school. I see curiosity as a muscle that you need to develop from a very young age onwards. It is the answer to a lot of things, from understanding the way you look at the world to the way the world looks at you. Knowledge is factual, curiosity is emotional.


If ADDPMP is a new knowledge structure, what did making it teach you? 


It taught me a very simple thing: there’s a pattern in chaos. For a long time I believed that ADHD made me think in a very disorganised way — making these books helped me figure out a formula I’ve been unconsciously applying to my work since day one. I am now able to visualise my own mind map, like if I had just found the manual guide for a computer I bought 15 years ago. 


And that is exactly what this project is about. It looks like a completely random selection of things but isn’t. All the references in the book or videos are in dialogue with one another through meaning, colours, images, similarity, contiguity, and contrast. And through my own, personal analogue algorithm, proposing new connections. Understanding that made me look at my own work process differently. Where that is? Somewhere between anarchy and discipline. 

Launching the second edition of ADDPMP in Tokyo, what about Japanese culture is important to you? 


Japan feels like a different planet and a home at the same time. Japanese mastered ‘curiosity’ like no-one else. Japanese contemporary culture is a blend of a lot of things that doesn’t necessarily come from Japan, but that form a unique formula. Everything in Japan feels like a memory of something that never existed. Wether it’s architecture, fashion, food or music, you can always relate to the ingredients, but things always feels like something you’ve never experienced before. It’s like a continuous ‘aha’ feeling, or like listening to a better version of a song you thought you knew by heart.


At Spazio Maiocchi in Milan you presented new installations and collaborations. How are design and performance connected to ADDPMP? 


It’s about applying the ADDPMP ‘formula’ to varying formats, shapes and mediums —  ADDPMP focuses on underlying patterns and deterministic laws of human knowledge networks that look to have completely random states of disorder. Just like how ADHD makes you see the world. Within the apparent randomness of chaotic complex systems, there are always underlying patterns, interconnection, constant feedback loops, repetition, self-similarity, fractals, and self-organization. This principle of mental associations as seen in the book, can take the form of pretty much everything, from sound to video and fashion and so on. ADDPMP is a post-disciplinary project in every way possible. 


What is your relationship between freestyle and reference? 


It’s the balance of both that’s important. You cannot freestyle without references, but the combination of both makes ones vision unique. If you give the same ingredients to ten different people they’ll come up with a recipe that looks similar but tastes differently. It’s nature versus nurture. And that’s also the essence of this project: everybody can do it, but no-one would make the same connections twice.

Which ADDPMP connections you like to see together IRL most?


There’s quite a lot of dark stuff in ADDPMP Volume I and II. I’m not sure how I feel about seeing a trepanation in real life. But again, it’s the ‘impossible’ association of references that I’m mostly interested in: so Pasolini and DJ Screw discussing Futurism in Cairo : yes! And that’s what ADDPMP is about. It is a bit like a ‘fantasy emulator interface,' a tool for imagination, a tool for curiosity, where anybody sees something different.


So if ADDPMP is an answer, what was the question? 


That’s asking “What do you do for a living?“. I see ADDPMP is the business card that I never had. ADDPMP is the answer to everything Ill-Studio does, has done and will do. In a way, research and ideas associations is what defines our job best, regardless of outcome. Wether in fashion, music, architecture or art, we always work with the same formula, and ADDPMP is Ill-Studio’s formula.

Ill-Studio is about gathering references from different fields, eras and disciplines. The references used in our work-process are as important as the project itself. Thanks to the infinite support of Slam Jam, we took this ‘approach’ much further. So ADDPMP is an investigative mode of working that ties in closely with the cross-cultural projects Ill-Studio develops. By collating vast and diverse sets of information, we approach each project with our own perspective, whichever form the project will end up taking.


What is next for Ill-Studio, General_Index and ADDPMP ? 


I never want to know what’s next. That’s the only way to keep the excitement going.

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ADDPMP Vol. II Book Black Slam Jam
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