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Lecture Library

Mind Traveling
by Survey of Interactive Media

When you travel through your mind, expect humiliations, fast speed, and free association.

“Being John Malkovich”, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, and “Michel Gondry’s Smirnoff Commercial” show ways of mind traveling.


Resisting the memory from being erased, Joel takes Clementine’s advice to hide her deep in his humiliations.  When Lotte chases Maxine in John Malkovich’s subconsciousness, they also run through a series of John’s humiliations.  They are so traumatic that our mind buries them deep, so that we do not encounter them accidentally.  However, the act of burying them deep is exactly why we do not ever forget about them, and it makes them keep affecting our life at the back of our minds.


One trait of mind traveling is its speed.  Our mind travels way faster than our feet.  Joel and Clementine race through all their shared moments in one single night before the Valentine’s.  Lotte and Maxine travel through all John Malkovich’s humiliations that happened in his life in 15 minutes.  While alcohol takes over our mind, it races wildly beyond the control of the consciousness, as suggested in Smirnoff commercial.


The other trait of mind traveling is its free association.  One technique applied to portray it is montage.  In the chase, Maxine keeps escaping from one memory to another through small passages. There is always a spin occurred while she enters a different memory.  The illogical change of spatial relationship emphasizes an illogical mind set.


Michel Gondry adapts the same technique in his Smirnoff commercial to portray the drunk mind traveling from one place to another.  In addition, he uses graphic match to further link two unassociated fantasies.  When the linear logic loses control, it seems plausible that our mind works through graphic connections.  Other techniques he uses to portray the free association in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” includes change of lighting to match the next memory, and then hard cut to it; one continuous take traveling from one memory to the next, etc.


Chi-Huan Cheng

eternal sunshine humiliation by Michel Gondry (2004) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
John Malkovich subconscious John Malkovich subconscious by Spike Jonze (1999) Lotte chases Maxine in John Malkovich's subconciousness.
Michel Gondry's Smirnoff commercial by Michel Gondry (?) Michel Gondry's Smirnoff commerical