About See Memory


“We, as human beings, are landed with memory systems that have fallibilities, frailties, and imperfections—but also great flexibility and creativity…at times we are not sure whether an experience was something we were told or read about, even dreamed about, or something that actually happened to us…forgettings occur for everyone, and they may be especially common in those who write or paint or compose, for creativity may require such forgettings, in order that one’s memories and ideas can be born again and seen in new contexts and perspectives.”

From “Speak Memory” by Dr.Oliver Sacks (neurologist), The New York Review of Books, February 21, 2013

My work is about memory, about coming to terms with the unknowable past and about how the not – knowing leads to invention and creativity.

In “See Memory” I use painting and film to make visible the process of memory and how images become layered and transformed over time.

The project began in film: I shot footage with two actors—a therapist and a young woman. We follow the young woman as she walks through central park on a winter’s day to her therapy session and cuts between her journey to the therapy room and her walk through the park, where we catch glimpses of her inner world/dreams. I used this material to explore themes of connection vs. disconnection, past vs present, dreams vs. reality and interior vs.exterior.

The film transformed into paintings: I selected stills from the footage and simplified and abstracted the imagery in paintings, so that the paintings are less particular, and more like schemas–suggestive dreams onto which each viewer can project their individual story and mood.  As described in a recent interview I did with psychiatrist Dr. Robert Elvove:

“I think memory is visual…I think dreams are visual; they are images that we see at night when we’re asleep that we add a story to.  When I think of my own dreams, and the dreams that people relate to me, I think of them as images—frightening images, alluring images, images that have the power to make people feel something.  When you look at an image created by an artist, it does the same thing.  You see stuff from your own experience, feel it as well and add the drama, the dialogue and the meaning, so that dream images and visual images created by an artist have a certain synergy.”

The paintings go back into film: While painting, I shot a still of each stage of each painting, and those thousands of stills are edited together to create a stop-motion for each painting so that the viewer watches the imagery come into being, and the layers of what gets covered and lost.

The film opens with excerpts from interviews I conducted with neuroscientists and psychiatrists on memory and dreams.

The combining of painting and film reflects memory’s ever-changing qualities. The visible, painted layers in the paintings are a metaphor for the pieces that get covered and lost along the way as memories transform through the passage of time and the layering of experience. The images began in film, were re-imagined and re-created as paintings, and ultimately go back into film, with instant images transformed into ones that take shape gradually, ever changing.