Readings ~ Attention and Memory

Naomieh Joven, Ocan Vuong, Charlie Tyrell, Fabiola Ferrero

I’m struck by the idea of attention. What do we pay attention to, and how does it change that thing? Our experience of that thing?

Using attention (and intention) to change the nature of something is a theme I’ve found in both Medium of Memory and Outside the Box. In Outside the Box, we used attention to transform a space into a Place. In Medium of Memory, we used attention to transform a photograph into a story, through the use of a caption.

The media below reflects a new thought; what kind of attention do we pay these memories, and how does that affect the way they change, grow, or exist?

Individual Media and Reflections

There is a Name for Women Like my Mother,  Naomieh Jovin

There’s something special about seeing the photographs in a home; more than the photograph, the sense of place adds a context and a gravity to the photo. The frame, the placement over a door, all meaningful.

By creating these photos of the women in my family, and reclaiming the images they made during their lifetimes, I hope to forestall this loss, to show the purpose and honor that defined their lives, and to actively create a new narrative for my generation. - Naomieh Jovin

A Life Worthy of Our Breath, Ocean Vuong

I have so little to say about this interview that isn’t better suited to just quoting Ocean. So here, here it all is.

And when you think about how people tell stories, stories are carried in the body, and it’s edited each time the person tells it.

And I think — because what happens is that through the body and through service, you articulate it through paying attention. Nothing can say “I love you” more than feeling it from somebody. And I think this relationship is how I started to see words. I looked at them as if they were things I could move and care for.

… the future is … in your mouth.

The first generation made it here, and to live at all is such a privilege that they’re happy, and even encourage you to put your head down, work, fade away, get your meals, and live a quiet life. And I think the second generation, the great conundrum there, the great paradox, is that they want to be seen. They want to make something. And what a better way to make something and fill yourself with agency than to be an artist? So: so many of us immigrant children end up betraying our parents in order to subversively achieve our parents’ dreams.

Ocean says many things that I hope to one day hold on my own tongue in my own words. His way of approaching the past is one with a lot of peace in it, despite the horrors that those memories may hold.

My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes, Charlie Tyrell

What a fascinating multi-generational uncovering. Horrifying, but comforting, a 14-minute unfolding that must have taken years. Charlie narrates the past looking back with new context, new knowledge. It’s like a type of literary suspense, where the audience knows something the characters don’t. And it’s sad, and accepting, and precious.

It’s kind of interesting to hear about this story from a third-person narrative. It’s somehow impersonal in this deeply personal story, maybe a way of handling it. In the end, I realized that it actually was narrated by someone else, not Charlie.

“A monument to a respectable brand of normalcy.” - Charlie Tyrell

I can’t Hear the Birds, Fabiola Ferrero

Place as memory, not as space. The spaces are almost second-thought here; instead, the memory itself is what is living and breathing, and captures the spotlight.


November 01, 2022