The idea for See Memory began in 2012 when my then 4 year old daughter asked me about the bump on collarbone—when I described the story of falling off a moped at the age of 18, her distraught response; “I wish you hadn’t told me! Now I feel like I broke my collarbone!” startled me.
I tend to over empathize; after reading, hearing or seeing someone’s story, I have to remind myself that it isn’t my own. I was born in Hong Kong, and lived there until the age of 10 when we moved to Brazil, before coming to New York, 5 years later. I assumed that the transience of my upbringing and the fact that I have never been back to the place where I grew-up, had made my memories seem dream-like, not real. But when my daughter so clearly let me know that she could absorb another person’s story as her own and effortlessly meld memory with imagination—I wanted to find out more.
How do we remember, why do we remember, and what does it mean if our memories are inextricable from imagination? How do we tell the story of our lives and how we became who we are, if what we think are facts, are really a tangle of fact, fiction and the osmosis of other people’s stories?
See Memory was made with the belief that my need to understand memory and how it shapes identity is universal. The action of the film swings between disconnection and connection, taking place between exteriors and interiors: A girl walks through the snowy landscape of Central Park towards therapy, she is isolated in her own thoughts. The therapist awaits her arrival- alone in the quiet darkness of the therapy room. The girl and the therapist connect. Outside and inside start to mingle - snow falls inside the therapy room, flowers float down from the chandelier, the therapy chairs appear outside in the snow-covered garden. I hope the viewer experiences vivid dream-like introspection: The watching of the film images as the paintings drip, layer and transform mingling with their own memories and imagination.
When I set out to make See Memory, I found the grey matter of memory to be unbearable. I wanted answers and I wanted what is haunting and unsettling in life transformed into something beautiful in its mystery.