The Memory of Water (part 1)



A single-channel video installation with multi-channel soundfield

Sadia, S (UK/CAN) The Memory of Water (Part One). Single channel video installation with accompanying 10.2 surround audio. SD, twenty-eight minutes, 2004.


The Memory of Water is a sound and video installation, in three parts, exploring the nature of human consciousness. Part One, this film, examines memory and reflection. The completed film is 28 minutes long and is intended to run as a repeating cycle.

“Consciousness, the formation of consciousness, and models of the self, have always been a particular interest of mine. In this work I wanted to examine the formation of memory, what defines us, and to capture and record recollections of ‘peak experiences’” says Sadia. “I’ve often thought that these ‘peak experiences’ are how we measure out our lives, that the day-to-day fades quickly and easily, and the nature of what we become over time is captured through these defining moments.

“I am also particularly interested in the commonality of man, what Jung might call the ‘collective unconscious’, and a lot of my work involves investigating what it means to be ‘human’. I tend to see the self, and the constitution and construction of dialogue with the self (‘the soul’s dialogue with itself’) as an energy process, interconnected with all phenomena, as opposed to something discrete and autonomous.

“‘The Memory of Water (part I)’ also examines the power of the gaze as that which confronts the viewer, challenging, assimilating and revealing in equal measure.

“This film was shot over a period of ten weeks in 2004. The participants were chosen to provide the greatest variation in age, status, occupation, ethnicity and nationality. They were asked to sit on a stool and their eyes aligned to a grid in the viewfinder, and were then played a recording of instructions to open and close their eyes over a fixed time period. After usually two or three takes, with their consent, but without prior knowledge of the question, they were then asked for their most significant memory.

“I then ‘reassigned’ the memories of one person to another”.

“The words and the eyes are played out of synch, so that one person’s voice speaks with another’s gaze. This simple device releases the memories from individual ownership, and the work becomes a gesture towards transcendence.

The voices are set against a backdrop of ambient and abstract musical sounds derived from striking glass bells, as well as electronics. The harmonics are then adapted to heighten and create an auditory subtext to the subject’s recollections.


Exhibition History

It was acquired by ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) in December 2004 as part of its permanent collection of exemplary works by Australian and international artists. It featured in the show 'PROOF: The Act of Seeing With One's Own Eyes', which opened on December 8th 2004 and ran until 13th February 2005.

“The work explores the relationship between the drop and the ocean in terms of human experience, as well as examining the gaze as a bridge between inner and outer worlds.” - ACMI


Selected Bibliography:

Proof: The Act of Seeing With One’s Own Eyes. ACMI (Australian Centre For The Moving Image). Melbourne:Australia 2004.

Herald Sun ‘Keeping Eyes on the Truth’, December 2004;

Contemporary Visual Arts and Culture, ’Proof’ March-May 2005.



FILMS menu

IMDb entry

HOME page


* ‘the Memory of Water (Part I) neither refers to nor is an endorsement of homeopathic principles