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I recently discovered that I am unable to voluntarily visualize mental images or recall visual memories, which apparently everyone else can do. I thought people were speaking in metaphors. The condition was termed Aphantasia in 1880. With this discovery, I became interested in the different ways to deliver information through sound and image, and the different effects that combinations of sound, image, and text have on my memory retention, focus, and the ability to form and connect concepts. I found that I am able to maintain prolonged focus and make more thoughtful connections significantly better when I am listening to information while simultaneously keeping my eyes busy, like driving while listening to podcasts or doing my nails while listening to the news.

I have always returned to James Baldwin’s speech, The Artist’s Struggle for Integrity, after hearing it sampled in a rap song and really identifying with it, even though it was written in 1962. It’s a great view on the whole creative process and I find a new gem in it every time. When overlaid on the abstract moving gifs, I have a whole new experience listening to the speech where I’m able to focus on his words while sorting through internal thoughts. It wasn’t until my discovery of Aphantasia that I actively started paying attention to the ways I process information, the way I form new ideas and connections, or even the way I retrieve information from memory. I knew that people had different learning styles, but this project allowed me to investigate some ideas I had about how I personally process and retain information. Understanding the differences in mental processing related to visualization ability is not only fun to play with for individual improvement, but could also help people better understand the different ways to receive and transmit information using new forms and combinations of media.

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