I woke up some minutes later remembering very little of what had happened during the trance. Somehow, this second time, the experience felt more real. Even though I had no way of explaining where these images came from, I had the feeling that they were not just regular imagination. I couldn´t say that they felt like real memories either. Somehow, it felt more like a hallucination or a hypnagogic stream of images. Yet, the whole process felt different from mere imagination.


Then I started to wonder what the difference is between memory and imagination. When we envision our past, to what degree are we just fabricating memories? Reflecting on my footage as well, up to what point can I say that these reenactments are truthful to memory? And, extending that question, what is a truthful memory? It seemed to me that the barriers between memory and imagination are very feeble. Certain things from my past are blurry, imprecise, unstable, and yet I believe that these things happened to me. On the other hand, imagined scenarios can be more vivid than "real memories".

I found a hypnotist to explore the boundaries between memory and imagination. We sat down and talked about the task: I wanted to go back to my first memory. He said that the hypnotic trance is something that must be trained, that to get to such a deep layer of conscience several exercises were required for me to get accustomed to the state.


Our first exercise took around two hours. Very slowly he guided me through a state of relaxation. He created this trance by softly speaking about the relationship between time and perception. He said that he would get me into a trance for 30 minutes of real time but that, inside the trance state, these 30 minutes could be perceived as four hours or four seconds. First, he created a scenario where visualization was required: I was walking through the woods by myself. Within the woods I would find a fence. This fence was supposed to represent the barriers that were blocking my conscience from remembering that early memory. As he asked me to control my breath and to get deeper and deeper into the trance, he commanded me to cross the fence.



When I crossed the fence I saw the bedroom where I spent my early childhood. A ray of light flooded the scene through the window. The light was yellowish and warm and everything was slightly out of focus. I immediately recognized that this quality of light was a direct reproduction of my Super Takumar 50mm lens. It was clear that I was “seeing” this memory through the lens of a camera.


My p.o.v. of the scene was floating close to the ceiling and I saw the hand-painted curtains that my mother designed for me as a baby. They had images of bears and balloons. These curtains were real; they did exist. Nevertheless, light never entered in such a way through the window. This was an inner part of the building and it was impossible to have such a straight and strong ray of light come from the window.


As my perspective floated across the room, I saw a crib where a baby was standing and playing. I guess this baby was me, which was kind of strange, since it would have been impossible for me to have this kind of perspective. As the eye drifted backwards, I saw the head of the baby: he was blonde, with pale skin and clear blue eyes. Since my hair and eyes are black, it became evident that this was not me. This baby seemed to be almost unreal; he seemed to come not from real life but from a TV commercial for baby food.


At that point, while I was describing the images to my hypnotist, I started laughing since this was a pure act of imagination. I thought to myself: maybe I´m not even hypnotized, maybe I´m just playing along. My hypnotist decided to finish the session at that point.



Within my texts there was a very clear image from childhood. In it, I remembered seeing a giant live crocodile walking through the corridors of a hotel. When inquiring about this memory, I asked my father about it. He said that he had just been teasing me, that he had said: “Look at that hotel, they have a crocodile and they let him walk along the corridors; it is their mascotte”. Somehow, my father’s joke got mixed up with all the crocodile statues, cartoons, plush toys and stuffed specimens that decorated the town. Within my memory, all of these things conflated to produce an image of a crocodile walking through a hotel. This memory, you could say, was implanted in me. It was completely absurd and it was very vivid, and yet it never happened at all. Still, it seemed like a memory to me.


It seems to me that maybe the only distinction between my memory and my imagination lies in the value that I give to images: “it is a memory because I believe it is; it is imagination because I don´t believe it happened”. It may be astonishing but maybe the barrier between memory and imagination lies only in the condition of believing. In other words, imagining and believing may be two fundamental characteristics of a memory.


It is important to note how this image was a product of the conflation among a series of real elements that were re-contextualized within the frame of a memory. There were the curtains (which are a real element from my past), the room (which is also real, but the light that was flooding the room was conjured up/invented/unreal), the baby (which came from TV ads) and the texture of the perception (that came from the aesthetics I used to film). All of these elements were recombined to create an image that was completely imaginary and nonetheless stemmed from a real memory.


It was at this moment that I started to ask, what are the limits of a memory? At what point does a memory stop functioning as the registry of something real and become purely an act of imagination? What is the relationship between imagination and memory?



Some months later, we decided to repeat the experiment. The goal was the same but the conditions of the experiment changed slightly. This time, I would be forbidden from speaking during the trance (since the previous time it had made me too self-aware to relax). As before, the experiment took a couple of hours. My hypnotist first started by making me breathe deeply, by making me approach a semi-conscious state. The same visualization exercise of the woods and the fence was repeated. Nonetheless, this time, as the trance got deeper, I started visualizing a hand that was guiding me through this forest.


As I crossed the fence, images started to become blurrier and I completely lost conscience of the outside world. I fell into a state, which I could only describe as hypnagogic. Textures and shapes became more abstract. After a while, I saw a giant storage unit with big wooden shelves filled with processed meats and cheese.


continue to: Memory as montage