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IRON:WOOD (2023)

Single channel video and sound – 5 min

Years ago, i was told by mentors of my film editing career, that a visual memory – that is – the ability to store and retrieve visual information would be among the most important skills i could develop.
I’m fascinated by the way images can rest in memory and be retrieved as fully formed visual events, as fragments representing a shift in gaze or movement past a subject (or a subject past one’s gaze), or even conflated and layered, one over (or into) another.

An interesting idea beyond how visuals are stored and retrieved in memory is why they are, in a particular way.
Clayton Curtis, a professor of psychology and neural science at New York University and the senior author of a paper in the journal Current Biology explains, “We now know that our visual memories are not simply what one has just seen, but instead are the result of the neural codes dynamically evolving to incorporate how you intend to use that information in the future.”
While I’m certain i don’t grasp the nature and evolution of these neural codes, I’m intrigued by the idea that visual memories and their retrieval can be shaped by intent.

i began working on this project with a vague idea (intent) of illustrating the way my own visual memories manifest in the context of a single experience over a finite period (screening film dailies, seeing a play); in this case, a multi-destination trek through South Africa in 2018. The idea (and challenge) was to use and manipulate my photography of the period to illustrate the way my brain had stored and contextualized these images beginning with my own gaze in the moment and then digitally preserved.

In July of 2021, I was invited to a duo performance of experimental music in Williamsburg Bklyn. Along with a small (masked), audience, the set was being live-streamed and I was unexpectedly drafted to live switch the 6 cameras for the stream. Later, I got the opportunity to edit the same performance from the raw camera files in the quiet of my studio and connected with the music in a way I had not while sweating the technical task of the moment. When I embarked on this project, I revisited those tracks for soundtrack inspiration and found what I was looking for in a piece written by Victor Tsillimparis and performed by Nick Saia.

—Michael Saia, 2023

© 2023 Michael Saia

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