Audio Quilt of a Thousand Names

Collaboration as a member of LabSynthE (Laboratory for Electronic and Synthetic Poetry)

What: participatory piece in which people are invited to read and record names of 10 people who passed away of HIV/AIDS. We made 100 cards, therefore it became an audio quilt (in reference to the AIDS Memorial Quilt) of a thousand names.

When: UT Dallas HIV/AIDS Week 2017 and UT Dallas HIV/AIDS Day 2018.

Display History: Lobby of the School of Arts, Technology and Emerging Communication (ATEC), 2017 and 2018.

Publishing History: An article by xtine burrough and I about the process of producing this piece and how it is an example of the way LabSynthE makes is forthcoming in a Trace Journal issue called “How We Make”.

You can see a video of the piece here.

This piece was created as a response for a call for art works to be part of the UT Dallas HIV/AIDS Week 2017. The Public Interactive Research Lab (PIRL) of the ATEC School is one of the stakeholders of the event, and has been sponsoring a display of some blocks of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and of the AIDS Quilt Touch table since 2016.

The first concept for the piece came from professor burrough, who had read names in the previous year. Reading names of the people celebrated on the AIDS Memorial Quilt is a tradition of displays of the Quilt, and was performed in UT Dallas in 2016 and 2017. Professor burrough talked about how public the experience of reading names was, and how could we create a more intimate version of it.
After months of producing ideas and discussing possibilities of materials and processes, we started making the cards which would become the piece. Many design decisions were made as we were making the cards.
We cut white paper in square-ish cards, sewed a small recording device with speakers with red thread, wrote ten names of people memorialized on the Quilt, and sewed them shut. During the HIV/AIDS Week, we offered 20 cards per day, for five days. We invited people to take a card, go to a quieter place, record the ten names written on the card, and give the card back to us. After each day, we would hang cards in different spaces on the ATEC lobby, creating a live sculpture that changed daily.

Pictures by me otherwise noted.