Our memories live inside our minds, but media and technology allow us to leave fragmented representations of them for the outside world to see. Photographs, videos, letters and little trinkets are connected to particular moments in our lives, but they are only tokens; abbreviated symbols of the past. Memory is made up of the most detailed textures that we access in the blink of an eye. But most of these details are lost in translation to the outside world. Before written language and technology, memory was an ephemeral, intangible part of our brain that was bound to the mind that housed it. Language allowed us to communicate pieces of it. Music allowed expression of feeling. Film gave the world an impression of what the inside of our head looked like. Little by little, media has given us a way to externalize our consciousness–the most intimate parts of which are memories. The Memory Box is a collaborative Intermedia project. Our intention was to take tiny fragments of people’s memories and reinterpret them with multimedia. We were looking to investigate how technology has come to intervene in the structure of how (or what) we remember, and how we use it to externalize pieces of our memory, exploring the space between recollection and representation. We asked our contributors to submit a “memory artifact” of any kind. We received physical objects, poetry, family photos, personal stories, videos, songs, old emails... and everything in between. Each submission was accompanied by responses to a few simple questions: which senses were connected to their chosen memory, if they found any gaps between reality and what they remembered, and if they felt technology had influenced their recollection in any way.
The diversity of responses was amazing. Some feel media can only show us fragments of experience. Some see memory as a sixth sense, watch their memories in different colours, and feel them in different temperatures. Some remember things they didn’t see with their own eyes. The common thread through the submissions seemed to be the gap between actual memory and how it is represented and remembered, either in our own minds or through the artifacts we hold on to. A story gets passed down with embellishments and omissions, but what actually happened gets recreated or lost in between. Media can represent parts of reality, but can also intervene in the restructuring process. This project itself is an active intervention in the representation of memory– an exploration of the gap between representation and reality. We are curators of these memories, but we are also modifiers. Perhaps our interpretations of these artifacts will change the shape of the memories of our contributors. The memory artifacts came to us across multiple mediums, thus each submission is fragmented and remediated through these pages and a multimedia presentation. Please visit The Memory Box website to view the video companion.
thememoryboxproject.blogspot.com ALEX BÉGIN ELYSSE DEVEAUX MORIAH MACMILLIAN
1. more lonely than when we sang it together 2. you can always go back 3. handstands on the couch 4. just like a scene in a film
Akashic The curl that smirked a tight lip’s edge was sunlight in a flat black line, then startled, I broke saying the clouds were turnings on a magnetized sky. It’s a note between two silences, often the scenes cascade, images touch— threadbare dusk meets the emerald of oceans, a whitecapped reverie, rapt on the rocks. When night unknits the constellations, to be impelled by the pin-prick stars beyond this brief elaboration of memory — to who we are.
more lonely than when we sang it together
I remember it being a hot summer day and feeling sort of sad and happy at the same time.
The sunset was really beautiful and I was glad to be SHARING THAT MOMENT with them, but it also made me sad to think about how life can be so short. I knew my grandparents health was not the greatest at this point and this visit was actually the last time I was able to spend time with my grandpa.
I believe I had just turned 3.
My parents were cheap, so they decided to get a Christmas tree for FREE at the local dump, which was surrounded by forest. I am fairly certain this event explains my unusual disdain for the holiday. I remember standing with my mother and sister amidst the garbage, waiting for my father as he went off into the woods carrying a saw. It was around hunting season, so we could occasionally hear gunshots far off in the distance. I remember seeing a deer head not too far from where I was standing. It may have been a wolf, the memory is unclear.
I specifically recall my mother saying “Oh, I hope he doesn’t get shot.” It all seems rather surreal now, picturing us there surrounded by all that garbage, silently waiting for our perfect tree, not really acknowledging the utter absurdity of the situation.. I do wonder though if this experience wasn’t somehow embellished by strange CHILDHOOD DREAMS, but I do have this one photo that speaks volumes of the unhealthy state of dump trees. For most of my memories I’d say they are mostly generated by photographs; I wonder if I actually remember events because I remember them or because the photo is proof and therefore I SHOULD remember it, so I just decide to remember it. With this Dump memory, all I have as PROOF is the tree photo and my parents confirmation that we did in fact get a tree form the dump. The rest however, could be a figment of my imagination. but i’m pretty sure it happened.
I love my brother. I hadn’t heard boo from the guy since he told me out of the blue that he was going to Japan to you know, ‘wing it’. The email from Tamami was the first thing I had heard about how he was doing in a strange country – apparently getting along smashingly with the natives. I received the second picture from him with nary an explanation, other than ‘the snow was good’. Love that dude, and thinking about those pictures, always makes me feel wistful… and jealous I can’t leave the country.
I’m not sure what happened in between the time when both pictures were taken. The memory feels like being nostalgic for something I would never experience. It also feels a bit of anger over my student loans, and maybe embarrassment over some of the more questionable choices I made as a younger man. It sounds like, “You went all the way to the Mountainous Prefectures of Hokkaido, to drink Wild Cat with Graham?”
From “Tamami Hashimoto” <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: <email@example.com> Sent: Monday, January 24, 2011 2:58 PM Subject: Cameron Report from Tamami >Paula Good morning from Ushiku. >Yesterday I enjoyed chat with you. >I think sending you Cameron’s Ushiku Life Album, > but I think better that You should check >and know my picture after you hears it >from Cameron first. >So I sent you picture of 1scene. > >It is sunny day and 9degrees. >Cameron has good Tokyo days! I think. > > Tamami
you can always go back
MY MEMORY is triggered by the smell of the ocean. It looks like the washed out colours of a fading sunny day, and the sun shining in my eyes. It feels like the dry, rough skin and hair of someone who has been in the ocean all day. It sounds like the gentle rustling of wind through dune grass, the distant crashing of waves and the gentle hum of late summer insects... And the kind of SATISFIED QUIET that comes only after a long, exhausting day of fun.
I’m in the sunroom of my apartment in Ekaterinburg, lying naked on the floor, hallucinating because of the heat.
I’m melting on a rock next to a lake in Siberia, listening to Roman’s stories about medieval Ukrainian Queens.
I’m in a theatre in Berlin, rubbing my neck with ice cubes, watching Jared Leto die in a Belgian science fiction film.
I’m passed out on a beach on the Ligurian coast, suffering happily from heat stroke and a limoncelloinduced hangover.
I’m in my room in Montreal, daydreaming instead of studying for midterms, and hugging my radiator for warmth. Genna Reibmayr-Little
THE RIVER CABIN
The cabin had always been down there, hidden from view, down in the valley made by the river bed. In the summers between eleven and fourteen I would ride my bike up the steep hill, the road behind me crisscrossed and patterned by the shadows cast from red pine trees. To my left, and far below, the Coaticook River wound its way through the farmland. Exhausted, I would pedal until I got to the top of the hill, and lean against the guardrail to peer into the shadows, looking for the cabin. The guardrail was only five feet long, and it was the only one on our road; it protected the one place where the hill dropped sharply enough to the river to warrant five feet of guardrail. Most of the time I could hardly catch a glimpse of the cabin, trying to get a good look down at it from above, where its roof was obscured by branches and leaves. It wasnâ€™t even a cabin, really; more of a wooden stall, propped on stilts in front of the water. During the summers it was hidden, but not forgotten. Loose boards stood out in shades of grey-brown against the green of the canopy far below, a reminder to keep me interested, watching. The summers made the building into a hidden Mayan temple, swallowed by the jungle, waiting to be discovered. In the winter, it became a skeleton. A heap of bare boards nailed together. A different, more sinister kind of hideaway. Ghostly. I had to look inside. The first time I saw inside of it I must have been about seven. My older sister and I walked down the quiet road one mid-afternoon, paused to lean over the guardrail and took a peek. It was late spring then, and the waters in the stream were gurgling away as they sped under the wooden stilts down to join the river. â€œWhat do you
think it is?” she asked me, and I did not know. This was the first time I had ever seen it, and it was a mystery to be solved. We decided to investigate. From where we stood, there were only two ways to get down to the riverbed. One was to climb over the locked fence at the bottom of the hill, sneak past the only two river houses, which stood empty and silent as the summer tenants hadn’t moved in yet. The second was to step over the guardrail and make our way headlong down the steep stream-bed to the wooden stall below. We didn’t even consider the first option. The rocks and pebbles were wet and slippery with that years’ snow-runoff, and my seven-year old feet slipped here and there. My sister (who was quite a few years older than me, and therefore the responsible one) was suddenly nervous, cautioning me to go slower. “Maybe we should go back,” she told me. But we both knew that that was not an option, either. With the odd slip here and there, dirty and wet, we finally made it to the bottom. In front of us, a tattered curtain covered the opening to what was obviously the entrance to some sort of secret underground passageway. The cloth blew in and out softly with the breeze. My sister and I looked at each other, me with a nervous smile, my sister confident and ready to explore. What secret letters, mysterious objects, what heaps of treasure were hidden within? Carefully, she pulled back the curtain. I craned my neck to see what was inside. I was not disappointed. One entire wall was covered with water guns, held up by pegs that were screwed into the sideboards. My eyes sped over the fluorescent yellows and oranges, the electric blues and greens. This was the ultimate kids’ fort, and my sister and I had discovered it. “Can we take some?” I asked
my sister, because the place seemed deserted. The two summer houses to our left and right were hidden from view, empty. “They don’t belong to us,” she told me, and I knew she was right. Neither one of us made a move to go inside. It was an eerie feeling to be down there by the river, standing in a place we both suddenly felt we shouldn’t have been. I thought of a triangular stone that I had often passed above us in the red pine plantation. One whole face of it was smooth, making it look like it could have been the marker for a forgotten grave. It and the fort seemed connected somehow; remnants of some earlier river civilization that I never knew existed. Following my sister, I scrambled back up the narrow, wet stream bed, and over the guardrail. It was years before I went to the fort again. The woods were full of secrets; paths and deer trails to walk, cracked boulders to jump from one side to the other, the stone tunnels that let water run through the hill created by the railway. I hadn’t forgotten about it, though. Every once in a while as we sped down the hill in the school bus, I would lean against the window of my seat as we passed the triangle-shaped rock, to try and peer down over the side. When I finally did go back, things had changed. I was thirteen by then, and rode up the hill on my bike, pausing to rest by the guardrail. I rolled my bike into the woods, leaned it up against one of the trees, and hopped over the guardrail. I started down the stream bed, the same mixture of fear and adventure washing over me. The fort was even more ramshackle than I remembered it. Whole boards had fallen off one side of the wall, another hanging half attached, like an arm in a sling. I reached the bottom, and realized I was not alone. A dog, growling and barking, was running from one of the houses to meet me. A middle-aged couple whom we hadn’t met had bought one of the river houses that year, renovated it and
expanded, cut down trees. From where I stood, though at a distance, I could now see their whole backyard, where before there had been only cedars. A woman stood on her back deck in a bathrobe, hands on hips; the dog still running towards me asserting its territory, as well as the privacy of its owner which I had unknowingly violated. The ruins of the fort were just a few steps in front of me. All my questions were still unanswered. What had happened to its secret store of water pistols? Were they still in there, crushed under the weight of fallen boards? Or was there something else there now, replaced by whatever phantom children had put the water guns there in the first place? I wasn’t destined to know. I called out an apology to the woman on the deck (who didn’t answer except to call the dog back to her), and climbed, disappointed, back up the side of the hill to my bike. For some weeks after, I thought about the fort. About the kids who must’ve built it, twenty years earlier. About the treasure they had stocked there, one lazy summer afternoon, probably after a water-fight. Now, forgotten. It wasn’t until that winter, when my dog ran down to the river house (myself following clumsily behind with an empty leash in hand), that I knew it would be alright. Outside the house, all bundled up in snowsuits that made them look like little snowmen themselves, the couple’s two grandchildren were playing. One looked to be about four years old, the other maybe six. Not ready to go off and explore just yet, but soon enough. I leashed my dog, waved a hello to the neighbours and started back up the hill, confident that the secret of the fort wouldn’t go to waste. It wasn’t my mystery to explore, not anymore. Now it was theirs. Written at age 16
I did move to the Yukon that summer, and I did drive across Canada with my boyfriend. I did see the landscapes I imagined. I did share amazing songs with the man I love. I did spend hours without speaking and just being together, just like I had hoped would happen while walking those streets. But the wire I bought to plug my iPod into my van didnâ€™t work, so my magical plan to listen to this song while driving on unknown highways was doomed from the beginning. I think that foreshadowed everything that happened since I left what was my home for 6 years.
I can always go back to that memory.
HALF MAST MOON Half mast flies the moon In the skies of night Serene and silent On her special flight Salute to the death In each oneâ€™s life No, not the glow Of the pregnant moon Or the darkness that comes When the sun looses the fight Mystery held in darkness Truth held in the light Both held in the arms Of the half mast moon tonight
Sometimes when I listen to people’s stories and there is no easy resolution to their issue, I share this poem with them because I find it comforting and I hope it is comforting for them too. I feel stillness and peace in this poem and even while writing this it brings tears to my eyes because it’s a really beautiful, meaningful poem to me. I also find it reassuring as the moon returns over and over again to the half mast state and continues to remind me of the duality of life. The moon helps to build connections between people because all of us can look up and see the same moon no matter where we live on this planet. I don’t know if there is a difference between memory and reality. I remember where I was when I was inspired to create this poem. This poem and the memory of it is still part of my reality. I continue to share this poem so the life or thoughts it’s creating continues to grow. I can’t remember everyone I’ve shared this poem with but I remember the feelings of compassion I had at the time.
handstands on the couch
â€œA child is born a
and shrinks as he grows older.â€?
When we are children we are naturally so creative. We have no inhibitions, we want to share our artistic endeavours to everyone... But most of that got lost as I grew older.
I blame media (Toy Story, Pocahontas) for playing with my mind and CONVINCING me that my Teddy could really hear what I was saying.
I would talk to that bear for a long time, based on that belief.
Teddy and Pink Blanket know most of my deepest secrets, fears and regrets.
DANDELION Thrown together like plastic dolls. We hid behind our mothers, they were trees and we were playing hide and go seek. That summer we lay among the dandelions, and hugged our knees, trapping the august heat. You said to me: â€œIf you blow on this dandelion the world will end.â€? I held it in my hand. I believed you and I blew.
In my memory, everything is very dream-like... there are no sounds and there are only small flashes of moments I remember that blur into each other. The poem implies that I was with one other person, who handed me this dandelion. In REALITY, I remember being with my best friend, when this boy from our neighbourhood came and told us that if we blew on this dandelion the world would end.
Unlike the poem, I remember hesitating, and I donâ€™t even remember if I blew or not. But now, I have flashes of blowing this dandelion, and me and this boy from my neighbourhood being the only two people there. The poem has kind of become a story that is easier to picture in my head.
MY MEMORIES are sun-soaked, shimmering and hazy.
They are probably more golden than the REALITY of the actual experience.
“Your cheatin’ heart, Will make you weep, You’ll cry and cry, And try to sleep, But sleep won’t come, The whole night through, Your cheatin heart, will tell on you... When tears come down, Like falling rain, You’ll toss around, And call my name, You’ll walk the floor, The way I do, Your cheatin’ heart, will tell on you...” [Lyrics by Hank Williams]
The memory sounds like being young and my dad playing me and my siblings old Hank Williams and other bluegrass songs.
This song always makes me feel like a kid because it takes me right back to THOSE MOMENTS. Anna Scouten
just like a scene in a film
But it wasnâ€™t my brain, and the same way my brain had swallowed the world to be able to remember it, that world had a BOLEX and 16mm celluloid and a projector, a screen time space, and the lucky use of light to mediate it. Now I look back and see that I have two versions of the same memory.
Amanda Di Gregorio
I felt completely alone despite the fact that they were near by. I looked into the viewfinder, and there was the Mediterranean, shimmering, miles of beaches, SO MUCH LIFE condensed into one image.
The big difference between my memory and reality is how I picture it.
In my head, the lyrics of the song paint the picture of what I see in my head, but the REALITY of it was the process of writing the song and the many times we played it live; the fun and exhilaration that stemmed from it.
Media and technology has done so much for my memory, because it has allowed me to physically record the song so that I can always remember it, and media has let me share an exciting part of my life with my friends.
“When I was only 17, they strapped me on some metal wings and even though they weren’t my size, said sink or swim, today you fly So I soared across the puddle, and was the first to reach the other side. And I remember nasty things, like crimson crabs, and yellow Kings
And I remember yellow tides, and Kamikaze suicides The fire that engulfed the air, a pyrotechnic nightmare The things I did were vicious, and utterly pernicious to you. All the sushi that I tasted, and the taste buds that I wasted on you.” [Lyrics by Clap Trap]
I remember the in-between moments of filming; squeezing through a crowd of people trying to protect my camera, standing in front of enormous speakers and FEELING THE VIBRATIONS of the bass.
A lot of private stuff could be seen on a cell phone. Whole conversations are had on there. Itâ€™s almost like opening up a PERSONAL JOURNAL.
We received an amazing amount of memory artifacts. Our project grew in a way that we couldnâ€™t have even imagined. As well as providing us with memories, the questionnaire responses were insightful and thought provoking. Thank you for making our project what it is!
Contributors: Clare Anderson Jesse Anger Alex Begin Amanda Dafniotis Elysse Deveaux Amanda DiGregorio Genevieve Doyon Mike Ferguson Erin Kanygin Jasmine Lanthier-Brun Kyel Loadenthal Jodie MacMillan Moriah MacMillan Emilie Owens Donna Pendziwol-MacMillan Alessia Pizzanelli Adriana Quesada Genna Reibmayr-Little Anna Scouten Chelsea Sproule Jennifer Tate Zoe Toupin Shoshana Walfish Kimberly Watson Peter Webber Additional Thanks: Matt Soar Intermedia II
DESCRIBE a memory:
What SENSE triggers the memory?
What does your memory look like? feel like? sound like?
What DIFFERENCES are there between your memory and reality?
How has MEDIA and TECHNOLOGY influenced the structure of your memories?