Thursday, April 14, 2011

reconstructive memory

“Subjectively, memory feels like a camera that faithfully records and replays details of our past. In fact, memory is a reconstructive process prone to systematic biases and errors—reliable at times, and unreliable at others. Memories are a combination of new and old knowledge, personal beliefs, and one's own and others' expectations. We blend these ingredients in forming a past that conforms to one's haphazardly accurate view of oneself and the world.” 
       -Elizabeth F. Loftus

I've become very interested in memory, specifically gaps and errors in memory and the way a person's mind compensates for missing information by interjecting information that is sometimes distorted or inaccurate. I am also fascinated with discrepancies in the way two people remember the same event and the way a person’s identity is ostensibly comprised of an accumulation of memories, while the perception of those memories is in turn determined largely by identity.

The following drawings are the results of a brainstorming session around the exploration of these concepts. Some of these have led to paintings and some are a finished thoughts as they are.

Untitled, Charcoal on Newsprint

Untitled, Oil Bars on Paper

Memory Cards, Ballpoint Pen on Cardstock
Eventually I want to expand this idea and produce a full set of playing cards that someone could actually use to play Memory.

Untitled,  Marker on Newsprint

Untitled, Marker on Newsprint

Untitled, Ballpoint Pen on Paper

 During my research I found out that the hippocampus, one of the main structures of the brain involved in memory, shares it's name with the Latin genus name for seahorses. Apperently the scientist who discovered it thought it looked like one.

Untitled, Micron Pen on Paper

Untitled, Prismacolor Pencils on Toned Paper

Untitled, Graphite on Paper

Untitled, Micron Pen and Charcoal on Paper

The next few are studies for a double portrait of me and my little sister, Sam. It's loosely based on the idea that two people will remember the same event differently. I'm currently finishing up a painting around the same concept.

Untitled, Marker on Newsprint

Untitled, Marker on Newsprint

Untitled, Prismacolor Pencil on Newsprint

Untitled, Prismacolor Pencil on Newsprint

It also seemed natural to include my own memories, especially from when I was very young. I was thinking a lot about whether what I remember is the actual event, or just the story as I've told it or as it's been told to me. 

Grandpa (Study), Graphite on Paper

Grandpa, India Ink on Paper

Untitled, Prismacolor on Paper

Untitled, Prismacolor Pencils on Paper

Untitled, Prismacolor Pencil on Paper

Hall Light On, Oil Bars on Paper

The Milk (Sketch), Charcoal on Newsprint

The Milk (Hand Study), Oil Bars on Paper

This last set is called Samantha. It's about what I have been saying my whole life is my earliest memory: the day my sister came home from the hospital. Mostly it's about how the more I think about it, the less certain I am that I actually remember it. I was only two and half, so it's a lot more likely that I just remember the story being told to me. That's kind of sad to me, because it seems like such a vivid memory and such an important one, I really wish I could believe that I really remember it as well as I think I do. I'm eventually planning on translating these into more finished pieces.

Samantha(1 of 3), NuPastel on Paper

Samantha (2 of 3), Charcoal on Newsprint

Samantha (3 of 3), Oil Bars and Charcoal on Paper


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