“You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head but you can prevent them from making nests in your hair.”

An interactive sound experience designed to investigate human sorrow by creating situations in which strangers can engage in low-risk confidences. Part one involves public interventions that take place over the course of several days; part two is a one-time live performance.

In part one, I sit in a public place and welcome passers-by to lay their head on my large shoulders and chat with me. My suit’s shoulder pads house speakers, which play soothing soundtracks (ocean waves, whale singing, delicate piano melodies…). In a flower brooch on the lapel of the suit lays a microphone, recording the exchanges. Participants are aware they are being recorded. I sit, surrounded by plush cushions that create a cozy spot for participants to nest in. Past locations for these interventions have included public markets, a cultural center, a tourist office and a library.

I pay attention to each participant’s needs, leading them into a discussion that may be personal or philosophical. As I am not a therapist, the goal is to engage in active listening and conversation.

Collected sound files are reviewed and edited. Samples are uploaded and arranged within the sampler’s banks to create possible musical or thematic sequences that form the basis for a performance, a Live Musical Thesis. This performance is largely improvised – following a framework that becomes more elaborate with every presentation– constructed using collected samples and a configuration of my personal experiences and an anecdotal overview of the experiences of ‘sorrow collecting’ that occurred in the previous days.

The Sorrow Sponge was produced with assistance from Mike Duemo (electronics) and Geneviève Paquette (costume).

The Sorrow Sponge was created as a commission from the Now Festival in Nottingham, UK. Subsequent presentations of the project occurred at The National Review of Live Art (Glasgow, 2007), Edgy Women (Montreal, 2007), Performing Proximities (Brussels, 2008) and Visualeyez (Edmonton, 2008).


Comments are closed.