The research I want to develop during the Master comes from my fascination with the mind´s subjectivity. How time perception can be different from one person to another, how people remember things that never happened or for example how some people associate different numbers with specifics colours, as I do. For me five is red without a doubt, four is brown and seven is green.
I first realized that not everybody had this strong association between numbers and colours many years ago. This was a surprise for me so I did some research and I found out that its a perceptual condition call grapheme color synesthesia, a form of synestesia in which an individual´s perception of numbers and letters is associated with the experience of colors.
When I started researching more about the subjective process of the brain. I found something that really interested me in an article.
In the above image, you can see a neuroimage of the same person, asked to remember the past and to imagine himself in a close future. As you can see, the same areas of the brain, highlighted in yellow and red, are used to both remember the past and to imagine the future. So neuroscientist have essentially found that the act of remembering and imaging activate a common network in the brain, including the Hipocampus.
For me this connection about memory and imagination, about past and future in our brain was very interesting but what fascinated me the most was this neuroimage. Because suddenly I started to imagine that these yellow-red spots are like two doors to the same wormhole or timehole. A time hole that connects past and future and allow us to experience a mental time travel.
What is was also new in this article in relation to this mental time travel is a neuroscience principle call Reconsolidation, that states that as long as we have memories to recall, the margin of those memories are being modified to fit what we know. So your memories are becoming less about what you remember and more about you.
So we can see that past, present and future are strongly connected in our brain. But thanks to the Reconsolidation principle, we can also see that the way our memories evolve tell us a lot about who we are.
I actually had this experience with my grandmother at the end of her life. During the last 10 years of her life she was gradually loosing her memory but repeating the same stories from her youth and childhood. The stories were gradually turned 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 better who my grandmother really was.
So in my research I want to investigate how I can use this neuroscience perspective, as a tool to construct a narrative that tells a story through the subjective “mental time” of its characters. A narrative which is faithful to the “timehole” that we have in our brain.
I will use this narrative for the project I want to develop during the master. A project where I tell the story of three different generations of the same family. A family where every member seems to escape from their reality, from their present. Some of them escape looking to the past with nostalgia and others escape looking forward, towards a future where everything seems possible.
For me its still difficult see how I can materialize this neuroscience approach into a film narrative but there are three things I would like to achieve:
Firstly: The narrative has to show how the past and the future overshadow the present of the characters.
Secondly: The narrative has to display how time perception is related to emotions.
Thirdly: The narrative should make visible the unconscious revelations we make about our selves when we remember.
One month ago I did a simple exercise where I played a little bit with the idea about three different layers of time coexisting. Here is a brief excerpt. I think it may help you understand a bit better what I´m looking for.
During the master I would like to continue developing some exercises where I play with The “reconsolidation Principle”, the way our memories evolve, and how time perception is related to emotion.
The different experiments will be part of the series “Still life”.
The first experiment will consist in a video portrait where I depict a person from the dual perspective “Internal time” “Real Time”. The video will be the transition from one perspective to the other. In this portrait I will develop the idea behind this very simple video screened in the laptop.
In this video in order to see the time passing you have to stop watching it, an look to another place. Just in the moment you return to watch the video is when you realized that something is changing, that something is moving. So you have to stop watching in order to really watch what is happening. For me this effect is very interesting because represent the invisibility of the passing of time. A concept I want to combined in this video with the idea of time perception.
So summarizing this presentation: If I had to reformulate my research question I think it would be: How can I use a neuroscience approach, as a tool, to create a narrative where I tell the story through the subjective internal time of its characters?