“I am terrified by the idea of altering my memories.” Engrams are imprints on the brain left by our experiences. This video essay began as a conversation between An-Laurence Higgins and Aaron Pollard, two Montreal artists of different generations, with diverging cultural and linguistic backgrounds. This conversation centers on a shared preoccupation with the ways in which memory shapes identity, how the stories we hold onto shift over time and space and how seemingly indelible experiences are transformed and lost to our minds. The making of this work coincided with the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. This and other global circumstances instigated an international focus on ecology, the human impact on the planet as a whole and the vitality gained from time spent outside in the elements. The natural world figures prominently in Engramme. Humanity appears only fleetingly in front of the lens, yet an anthropic imprint is ever present in its framing, sounds, speech and movement. Through a sequence of scenes, music and texts, Higgins and Pollard offer a dialectics of elements composed and assembled over the spring, summer and fall of 2021. What emerges is a shared ethos of availabilism – they collected the visual material with a variety of small cameras and devices – and a layered approach to image and sound following a poetic logic.
An Laurence 安媛 is a Tiohtià:ke/Montreal-based musician (guitar/voice) specializing in new/experimental music, and a performance/multimedia artist whose works address human relationships, memory and transnational identity. A daring performer, she collaborates with artists of various disciplines, and thrives in settings that stretch the limits of traditional music performance. As a soloist, improviser and ensemble musician, An Laurence’s performance style ranges from contemporary classical to electronic music, as well as spoken and sung performance works. Aaron Pollard is a multidisciplinary artist from Montreal who has been producing and presenting video art and multimedia performances since the early 1990s. His works have been shown in Canada and abroad. He studied at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design and Corcordia University, where he completed an MFA. He is the co-founder of 2boys.tv and worked for 20 years with OBORO’s New Media Lab.