(from process notes and public talk transcript)
Memories surface in diverging ways depending on where they have been stored, what level of consciousness they belong to and what triggers their release into our internal visual screen – the mind’s eye.
Memory Release focuses on three distinct types of memory:
Firstly those belonging to the pre-conscious: these are very early memories such as the first exposure of the nervous system to light.
Secondly flash memories: untraceable moments, where an image assails our present consciousness without warning. It is impossible to inhabit these memories, they are gone as soon as they appear, leaving nothing but an afterimage.
And finally what we will call catchable or inhabitable memories. These belong to the conscious and are therefore less abstract, more like near narratives which offer a space the self may enter and roam in.
As we know it, memory is an intensley subjective experience, so its representation poses many challenges:
- Do we all compress memories in a similar way? – how much have the photo album, the home movie and cinema itself influenced and overlayered our experience of memory, stimulating conscious reconstruction rather than direct access?
- What do memories look like after they’ve been held in the darkness of the self for a long time? Have they been eroded, over saturated, fragmented from their original context? Are they decodeable by anyone other than the ‘me’? These questions are maybe a little beyond an arts practice... Whatever the memory, we know that the subjective process of what we call “encoding” does compress the experience and in doing so, somehow saturates its aesthetic.
To gain a little more access into the syntax of a memory, we have compared it to a dream:
So, what was the lighting state, the composition and camera movement of the dream I had last night? How was my emotive state reflected in the colour range, the rhythm and the actual events? – what happened? Was it a point of view dream or did I appear in its space, external to myself?
The challenges of representing memory as a subjective, yet shearable experience, are at the heart of our research. During our process we found that we are indeed conditioned by the media to recognise and therefore represent memories in specific ways (through variable frame rates, extreme lighting and short duration clips). It would seem that anything longer than a minute acquires the experiential feeling of a dream. Although it is near impossible to represent a memory as a universally received experience, the performative art installation context of our work provided enough of a framework for the viewer to fictionally connect to the dramatic journey of the protagonist (the suspended body) as it moved and remembered.