H.M. (2009) Double projection of a single 16mm film, 18:30 minutes loop, Installation view, MoMA, New York. Photo: Thomas Griesel

H.M. is a two-channel presentation of a single film based on the true story of an anonymous, memory-impaired man, the famous amnesiac known in scientific literature only as “Patient H.M.” In 1953, when he was 27 years old, H.M. underwent experimental brain surgery intended to alleviate his epilepsy.  The unintended result was a radical and persistent amnesia.  Though he was no longer able to make lasting memories, his short-term recall, lasting about 20 seconds, remained intact.  He lived anonymously in this condition for more than half a century until his death on December 2, 2008, in a Connecticut nursing home.  His case is widely credited with revolutionizing our understanding of the organization of human memory.

H.M. consists of a single 16mm film that plays through two adjacent synchronized projectors with a 20 second delay between them, thus the viewer sees two simultaneous side-by-side projections of two different parts of the same film reel. The structure of the installation and the nature of the material together produce a sensation of mnemonic dissonance much like that experienced by Patient H.M.

This exhibition and programming is made possible with generous support by UCI Illuminations and The 2014 Claire Trevor Commemorative Star Event.


Kerry Tribe
Juli Carson
Contemporary Arts Center Gallery
Exhibition Dates: 
Jan 09, 2016 to Mar 12, 2016
Saturday, January 9, 2016 - 2:00pm
Thursday, January 28, 2016 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm

H.M. & The Aesthetics of Memory

A Roundtable
Speakers: Dr. James McGaugh, Kerry Tribe, and Dr. Juli Carson
Winifred Smith Hall, Bldg 710

This roundtable addresses the interdisciplinary subject of neuroscience and experimental filmmaking on the subject of brain imaging, memory, learning and trauma.
Free and open to the public.