Silvering the Cerebrum: Dillwyn Smith’s Art: Memory – Vision – Vision – Memory

Dillwyn Smith has been Artist in Residence at the Queen Square Brain Bank since 2013, creating work which offers a unique opportunity to engage the public with brain donation and the techniques used in post mortem diagnostics and research.

‘There’s a vision in my Memory’ was the title of the first of a number of digital works Smith made in response to his mother Shelagh Smith’s journey though Alzheimer’s. It began as a reflection on advice offered at the Hammersmith hospital concerning ways to keep her mind active. The work was made using family photographs and audio tape recordings, which Smith had found under his parents’ bed. The work was engaged with the following components: the degrading image, the computer’s use of binary coding and physical observation of Shelagh’s developing confusion.

‘There’s a vision in my memory’ focuses on shifts between two senses, seeing and hearing. The audio track was recorded by Smith’s father one evening at Drumnamonagh, his grandmother’s cottage in County Donegal. The recording was made during the annual family summer holiday. Family, friends and neighbours would come together for an evening entertainment with each person contributing a song, recitation or story. This happened year on year with each person encouraged to do ‘their song’ no one else could take your song.

The image and audio were synced. When each song stops the image is left at the lowest resolution the computer can read the image at. The audio features songs by Dillwyn’s twin brother Eugene, his mother Shelagh, his grandmother Biddy McGroddy and a neighbour Mary-Ellen Boyce. The images are arranged from left to right Eugene, Shelagh, Diminick McGroddy & Biddy McGroddy.

The title of the work is taken from the first line his mother sings when the other songs have stopped. Shelagh sang out “There’s a vision in my memory”

The video was included in the Silvering the Cerebrum exhibition held at UCH September-November 2015.

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