See Memory

A painter explores the science of memory through the lens of art.
by
Year Released
2022
Film Length(s)
15 mins
Closed captioning available
Remote video URL

Introduction

Memory is the story we tell of how we became who we are. We pass our memories down to our children and it shapes who they are and who the become. It is our history. We can't get through the day without it yet we are completely unaware of it. It makes its way into our dreams and imaginations and helps us hope and plan for our futures. It is always there, the backdrop supporting everything we do. We don't realize that everything we do depends on it until we lose it or something goes wrong and we become trapped inside of it. But as powerful as it is, memory is dynamic- it can change. And when we change our memories, we change who we are and who we can become. See Memory is a 15-minute film created out of 30,000 painting stills that explores how our memories define who we are, how we remember, and the inextricable link between memory and imagination. The title was inspired by Oliver Sacks’ essay "Speak, Memory" and narration is based on interviews with neuroscientists and psychiatrists, including Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel.

In Spring 2023, a downloadable study guide with interview transcripts, behind the scenes material, and discussion guides for core topics of Neuroscience, Psychology, Social Work, History, Art and Filmmaking, will be available with educational licensing. Screenings and the guide are designed to spark deep conversations about memory, PTSD. mental health and the relationship between art and science For information on how to host a panel and screening email seememoryfilm@gmail.com

Featured review

"See Memory is a stunning dramatization of the complexity and emotional power of human memory. In a visual and narrative journey that is as haunting as it is insightful, the film offers nothing short than an entirely new way of imagining memory, trauma, presentness, and emotional experience. Its beauty is matched only by its brilliance. See Memory should be required viewing in every class on memory, consciousness, and phenomenologies of mind."
~R. John Williams
Associate Professor, English, Film and Media, Yale University

Synopsis

See Memory portrays a young woman’s journey to understand and come to terms with her memories. Told in magical realist style with colors that drip, layer and bleed into each other, the moving paintings are a visual metaphor for the act of remembering.
The notion of memory, as in the process of creating memories, is something that is not well understood and yet we all tend to see our own memories as infallible. As more and more people and their families struggle with PTSD as well as cognitive decline, the observations and insights made by neuroscientists and psychiatrists will strike a chord with even more viewers.

Reviews

"As a neuroscientist who studies how emotional memories are represented in the human brain, I was thoroughly impressed by the film's insights about the dynamics and subtleties of memories, and I was deeply moved by the artful way these ideas were expressed. The filmmaker was able to express scientific concepts and biological mechanisms of memory using art. During the last decade there has been tremendous interest in the science of memory, particularly in light of new discoveries on the biology of memory storage and retrieval, which may allow modifying traumatic memories. See Memory expresses these ideas in a very intuitive and artistic way."


Daniela Schiller, Phd
Director of the Schiller Lab, Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine
"The insights that are offered are both powerful and meaningful. I felt those insights washing over me like the different watercolor paintings as they flashed on the screen. This is a lovely presentation of profound ideas that are exceedingly difficult to explore in any medium, including film. The real genius of this film is a clever way of framing what are very profound statements, narrated in a careful, thoughtfully-paced way, against the backdrop of changing watercolor images."
Film Screener
D.C Shorts Film Festival
"New York City artist uses 10,000 painting stills to create animated film about the mind."
The title was inspired by Oliver Sacks’ article "Speak, Memory" and narration is based on interviews with neuroscientists and psychiatrists, including Nobelist Eric Kandel.
ArtDaily
ArtDaily
"Silvera puts memory into motion"
Nicole Teitler
Writer, Dan's Papers
"One memorable project
Arts & Living
27 East
It is truly a magnificent piece, “beautiful, ethereal, dreamlike.”
Simon Fortin
Lecturer, New York University
One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. A real experience.
Dr.Paul Browde
Dr. Paul Browde, Columbia University, School of Professional Studies
Brilliant, incredibly profound and so beautiful
Jill Eikenberry
Actor and Producer
"The response has been outstanding. The film facilitates discussion about memory and the impact of both physical and psychological trauma on memory in a very humanistic and personal way. It allows viewers to reflect on and share their personal experiences. The film opens the door to understanding the science of memory and it promotes an understanding of personal trauma and equally important an understanding about the important role of the community in helping victims of trauma through their healing process. "
Silvana Riggio
Professor of Neurology, Psychiatry and Rehabilitation, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Awards and Screenings

Awareness Film Festival
Viten Film Festival
Blow Up Chicago Art House Film Festival
Big Apple Film Festival
Altspace VR Scenes & Screens Film Festival

Director Commentary

I was born and raised in Hong Kong where I lived until I was 10. I then moved to Brazil for 5 years before landing in New York at the age of 15. My Hong Kong memories are often out of my reach. If memory is the story we tell of how we became who we are, who are you if your memories are not within your grasp? I set out to make See Memory to come to terms with my own fraught relationship to memory.

“Speak Memory” by neurologist Oliver Sacks, explores his childhood memories as a melding of his experiences and things he heard or read about. Emotion is the strongest encoder of memory. If you hear a story that triggers a strong emotion, you may absorb pieces of it as your own. Sacks explains that neurologically, there is no way to decipher experienced memory from imagined memory. I wanted to find out more. In interviews with psychiatrists and neuroscientists I asked - How do we remember and why do we remember?

I made See Memory with the belief that the need to understand memory and how it shapes who we are is universal. The film combines art and science, giving a vivid and visceral experience of what it is to remember and be haunted as well as enriched by our memories.

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • Closed Captioning
  • Director's Commentary
  • Transcript

Film/Audio Languages

  • English

Subtitle/Caption Languages

  • English

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

Resources for Educators

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