Kerry Tribe. H.M., Mirror Tracing Task, Rotary Pursuit, Tapping. 2009

Kerry Tribe H.M., Mirror Tracing Task, Rotary Pursuit, Tapping 2009

  • Not on view

Tribe incorporates the physical mechanisms of moving images into the content of her work. H.M. is a reconstructed portrait of Henry Molaison, known in scientific literature as Patient H.M., whose case is widely known for having revolutionized our understanding of human memory. In 1953, at age twenty-seven, Molaison underwent experimental brain surgery to treat epilepsy. The procedure left him with a radical form of amnesia that affected his ability to formulate new long-term memories; his short-term memory was limited to approximately twenty seconds, while his memory of events before 1953 was left largely intact.

The work combines reenactment (Molaison and others who appear in the film are portrayed by actors) and voiceover (including commentary by Dr. Suzanne Corkin, a neuroscientist who worked closely with Molaison) with found images, text, and animation. A single film print is threaded between two synchronized projectors; through a modified looping system, two parts of the film (twenty seconds apart) are projected simultaneously, creating a dissonance evocative of what Molaison might have experienced. The fragility of film—which degrades each time its projected—resonates with the precarious nature of memory. The three accompanying photographs depict tests administered to Molaison, designed to measure his capacity to learn new motor skills, which he was still able to acquire.

Gallery label from Images of an Infite Film, September 7, 2013–March 2, 2014.
16mm film (color, sound; 18:30 min.), two 16mm film projectors, custom looper, and three Chromogenic color prints
Dimensions variable
Fund for the Twenty-First Century
Object number
© 2019 Kerry Tribe
Media and Performance

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA's Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or, please email If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to