See Memory

An artist explores the intimate nature of remembering and new discoveries in the science of memory.
by
Year Released
2022
Film Length(s)
15 mins
Remote video URL

Introduction

See Memory is a 15-minute film created out of 10,000 painting stills exploring the nature of memory through the science of remembering.The film 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. The film explores our "magical capability" called memory, the essence of what we call "self". The moving paintings portray how memories interact and mingle with imagination in shifting layers of imagery.

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.

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.

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