what if felt like to dream fire
regina mosch and bryant keith bayhan
"The memory of the senses, a nontransparent and differentially available body of information, is important to everybody as a source of individual knowledge."
Laura Marks, The Skin of the Film, p.199

what it felt like to dream fire is the first piece of artistic research into the (in)visibilities, (in)tangibility and (un)representability of traumatic memory as part of my PhD. In a series of animated photographs, I am exploring what the embodied knowledge of a traumatic experience feels like, and it is – as scholar Lindner suggests, those ‘unruly, sticky, numbing, exhilarating, frustrating, agitating and affirming resonances’ that emerge in the encounters between bodies, film and theory which I am seeking out.

The memory recorded in the body after a traumatic experience is shattering. The narrative, conscious part of the brain is often too overwhelmed to process the experience. Instead, the knowledge of what happened manifests itself in the body: through hallucinations, dreams, fictionalised accounts and physical reactions such as anxiety, overwhelm, nausea or pain. Anne Rutherford draws our attention to the rupturing nature of trauma as it takes away the 'fundamental existential ground of existence in one’s body.


How can we articulate this kind of bodily knowledge? How can the fragmentation of experience and the altered perception of identity be a source of knowledge in itself?


In this piece of work, I have turned the gaze of the camera on myself. I’m interested in how trauma in film can be a space of bodily and political negotiation; a space that pushes and rearranges my agency as an artist and researcher.


This piece of work is part of a larger inquiry into artistic documentary filmmaking. I aim to (re)locate knowledge that is in the body but also produced by the body by developing and examining an expanded co-creative filmmaking method, which allows for a collaborative, non-hierarchical documentary space to take shape. I am basically using film to study what traumatic memory feels like in someone’s body, but also what it feels like to encounter it in film. I am studying this not to find definitive representations and clear-cut explanations for traumatic memory, but precisely to communicate and give space for the complicatedness, for the frictions and entanglements of traumatic memory in our bodies.