December 2013


The idea that memory does not necessarily solely serve to remember the past but that its also capable of imagining the future has been with us since antiquity thanks to great thinkers such as Aristotle and Quintilian. The idea emerged again at the end of the Twentieth century when neuroscientist Endel Tulving speculated with the idea that the mechanism that memory employs is the same one we use for imagining. However, it has not been until recent years, that this hypothesis has finally found scientific proof.

Today we know that the actions of remembering and imagining share the same neuronal circuit and activate a similar network of regions in the brain, including the hippocampus. We can therefore say that the action of remembering and imagining are intimately related. This principle is linked to the experiments developed by Dr. Karim Nader. These experiments have challenged traditional points of view about the neural basis of memory, thus proposing a new principle called ‘Reconsolidation’:

“As long as we have memories to recall, the margin of those memories are being modified to fit what we know, becoming less about what you remember and more about you” .

This last principle condenses in a strange way my own experience.

One of my childhood memories is of long afternoons alone with my grandmother listening to her stories; stories that spoke of a remote war and an even more remote family. The slow evolution of her neurodegenerative illness allowed me to share moments and memories during many years, while letting me witness the gradual degeneration of her mind and her stories. All those stories that she had told me about so many times, started to become distorted into stories where facts were lost or mixed-up and where reality was confused with fantasy.

Obviously, it was all a product of her illness, but as strange as it might sound, the way in which her memories evolved –with all those deliriums of fantasy- helped me understand and get to know who my grandmother really was.

“Margins” is a film structured into three stories (Grandmother, Father and Daughter) where I retell part of this experience building on the neuroscience principles previously described. In this triptych memory flows in two directions: past and future.

In “Margins” I take on a number of challenges but perhaps the greatest is to achieve that all three parts act simultaneously as the holistic ensemble that a family’s memory represents; a memory where three generations coexist through thousands of links, in one same space and in an abstract time, proving that history is open and that past, present and future can converge.

But how to narrate the beauty of all these links, that like cerebral synapses, exist only if they cohabitate in time and space?

This question has led to become interested in spatial montage (understanding this term within the concept of Macro-cinema, developed by the artist and theorist Lev Manovich ).  A type of montage that modifies that traditional form of perceiving time in narration and that permits film to be created in an open way in which different generational links can participate in different stories and vice versa.

In its way of understanding time, the spatial montage narrative stems from the concept of ‘duration’ developed by Henry Bergson in which one’s internal time is intuitively felt and in no way restricted by a series, succession or chronology. In this “eternal present”, the past is constantly updated and the future is recreated simultaneously. As spatial montage attempts to represent our “mental time”, I believe it could also serve to emulate the neuroscience principles discussed, thus raising the question:

Can spatial montage serve to understand and display the convergence between memory and imagination?

And the many other questions that this implies…

My intention during the Master is therefore to create a working method that will permit me to delve deeper into spatial montage and the neuroscience principles exposed with the final objective of understanding and displaying the convergence between memory and imagination. The method will consist of theoretical research as well as the necessary technical experimentation to develop a spatial montage for “Margins”. I currently envision this project as a video-installation or interactive film in which a mixed experience could be created for the viewer, making the film interpretable and mouldable.