Memory Box


On the sum and its parts #1.
When the memory of a space is summoned to become description, all senses overlap: smells, feelings, distances, objects, people…the memory of a place is the memory of a stage and of the play we have acted there. The body of work went on growing, shaped by the length of a conversation, the intensity of sunlight, the chemical reaction of negative film, an X marking the spot in a map.
The whole process was immensely slow. It was important to slower things down, used as we are to immediacy. Each part was the consequence of a previous cause, each of it thought out, tried out and tested. But the sum was also made using the calculation of hazard.

Part 1. On the interviews and the maps that came from them
In «Caixa de Memórias» (memory box) Everything starts with the request “describe the place you remember most vividly”. This method triggers the most different results, and yet they all share one thing: the description, in words, of a mental image, almost photographic (one could dare say), that livens up from going back and forth in the definitions and the imprecisions allowed by verbal language.
The interview is being timed, and later read aloud in my own voice, cleansed of pauses and interjections, and I can, in this way, appropriate their memoirs. By collecting memoirs (after a long period of interviews), Carla Cabanas found a way of confronting a report of past experience’s natural fiction with a new narrative created by the images she produces from these testimonies.
In a mnemonic exercise, she asks the interviewed to draw a map of that space, so that the word can become defined matter, become charted science, and can be visited.

Part 2. On sound and time.
Interviews were listened to over and over again, Written down, rewritten, read, corrected and taped. The time of discourse was timed, and read aloud by Carla Cabana’s voice, now the new owner of these people’s memories, now cleansed of pauses and interjections. To be used later on.
By repetition, other people’s words gradually became her own, until they were spoken in that natural easiness.

Part 3. On the journeys and images.
When visiting the described places, Carla Cabanas adds to them her own experience: the time she took finding them, what was said by those she has met there, the contrast between what was imagined and was indeed found. Now they also belong to her. They have more stories.
The space is visited and recorded through a camera obscura (a pinhole camera that slowly sips the light in) during the measured time of the reading, which then becomes the exposure time for experiencing the place.
Mathematically speaking, there was but the tiniest chance everything would work out: describing a place for an exact time, so that on a specific day, under a given light, according to a determined orientation, a negative film would have just the right density. But the images call out to imperfection and inaccuracy.

On the sum and its parts #2.
The viewer will also have the chance of making other people’s memories his/her own, of partaking in this cycle’s intimate process. The rhythmic monologue acts as a host, making the viewer a part of the story, also told by the image.
Each part was thought out, tried out, and tested – I was saying – as being part of a process, a method. But the sum, far from scientific, is closer to yet some other ruling: the poetic.
On the mystery of the whole being more than the sum of its parts, an old philosophy teacher said: “when my toaster broke down, I disassembled it and put it back together again. In the end, some pieces were left out, but it kept on toasting bread.”

Valter Ventura