Adam Scher December 6, 2010 Writing and Research Motivation and Impetus Chris Prentice My memories are sacred

. My memories are amorphous. My memories are mysterious. My memories are unique to me and me alone. It was the summer of 1996, and I sat in the television room of my mother s new house in upstate New York. Her and my stepfather had recently moved across the country, and this was my first visit to their new home. The heat of the summer was different than what I was used to in California, thick humidity paired with a constant stickiness. Afternoon sunlight filled the room, as my mother and I sat watching the Summer Olympics. Although I normally would have protested the programming, I sat quietly and watched. It was her company that I was invested in, not the gymnastics. She rested in her dark leather recliner chair, as I sat on the couch. Between us, was a small square coffee table that had traveled with her from Los Angeles to New York. I remember how strange it was to see the piece of furniture out of its original context. On top of it, a bowl of peanut M&Ms. All of the green one s skillfully removed from the bowl, ending up in my mouth. There was little conversation between us that afternoon, just the sound of the television and the comfort of each other s presence. That is my last memory of my mother.

I replay this scene over and over in my head, trying to grasp on to any other detail that my mind can afford to give up. What was it that happened right before this moment, or right after? I just can t remember. And I am left distressed, accepting the loss of those vacant moments. Perhaps the acceptance that precious memories of my childhood have faded over time has driven my current research and design practice. I am afraid that my memories will be lost over time if I do not carefully file and store them away. I believe their organization must be meticulous. But memories are not tangible and cannot be handled like the artifacts I associate with them. In fact, they operate on their own terms, leaving me powerless to their comings and goings. At times I struggle to remember the sound of my mother s voice, but can recall the act of eating green M&Ms the last day I saw her. These inconsistencies and unpredictable behaviors appear to be out of my control, and perhaps is what fascinates me about them. As I ve gotten older I ve begun to compensate for my inability to preserve these memories through documenting and saving the present moment. The brief act of snapping a photograph or saving a file reassures me that the moment will not be lost in my mind, and will be available for reflection at any point. How often do I go back and filter through these growing bins of digital memories? Hardly ever. How often do I think about that single afternoon in the summer of 1996? Almost daily. What I feel it comes down to is significance. We don t remember static moments of our lives. The memories build upon one another to create magical

scenes that we are able to recreate in our minds. A photograph might ignite such a stream of thoughts, but the actual object is incapable of transcending time and space. Without the fluidity and unpredictability of our minds behavior, we might never trigger lost memories. However it is a gamble, because there is always the chance that those thoughts could be gone forever.