How to speculate for the future
when reality is stranger than fiction?

Survival of a Memory

Sreelakshmi M
Open Elective Project
M.Des 2020
Film & Video Communication

student portfolio︎︎︎

"Survival of a Memory" is an experimental short film that explores an imaginary future where sunlight is a luxury and artificial lights flood our eyes. The intent was to present a speculative future where there are alternatives to our conventional timekeepers. I explored how this can affect an individual’s experiences and memories, and a possibility where space, time and memory are intrinsically connected.

Through numerous discussions, it became clear that my generation is too dependent on timekeepers. The idea that there are specific times to perform certain tasks has become expendable. Our present notion of time has detached itself from sunlight, breaking the notions of today and tomorrow.

The boundaries that the pandemic enforced pushed us into an overarching emotion of nostalgia. Screen time not only hurt my eyes but also disarrayed my memories. Reality itself started feeling stranger than fiction; thus, speculation became much easier.

I conducted an experiment where I removed the clock from my room and spent some hours without natural sunlight- only fluorescent LED lights. My brain started craving a clock to establish order. A sense of lethargy overcame me; I was unable to think actively. My mind revisited past memories as I rummaged through my father’s old negative film reels and saw memories from my childhood alive. I realised that time is nothing if it isn’t remembered.

Looking back, I could have increased the duration of the film, and focused on the relationship of the individual with their indoor space. I would like to take this project forward as an exhibition where the space in the film has been replicated, and can be modified by the spectators who engage with it. One can try to understand their experience of time and record it for others to see.

This project manoeuvred my thinking by understanding the intent and presenting it as a clear, concise message. I learned how to be resourceful and patient; ploughing through the grind to get a job done.


  • An experiment conducted by NASA with Stefania Follini in 1989
  • ‘Coffin houses’ of Hong Kong