Digital artwork by Rhiannon Armstrong, an online treasure trove of intimate and real-life audio testimonies, is part of Heads Up Festival’s in October.
The International Archive of Things Left Unsaid will be accessible in the foyer at Hull Truck Theatre from October 5-9.
Created by artist Rhiannon Armstrong, The International Archive of Things Left Unsaid (www.unsaidarchive.com) is a curated collection of genuine human confessions – stories of regret, hope, love and displeasure donated anonymously by members of the public over the last nine years. Initially conceived as a one-on-one live performance that toured the UK and internationally the work has been re-imagined for the internet using Scratch, Battersea Arts Centre’s methodology for testing and strengthening ideas.
The International Archive of Things Left Unsaid was selected in November 2014 ahead of twelve other proposals to be commissioned by Battersea Arts Centre and The Space, the latest in a string of genre-busting digital artworks supported by the commissioner since it re-launched in 2014. Rhiannon has since collaborated with computer programmers who inducted her in code and helped her to experiment and user-test new versions of her extraordinary archive.
Rhiannon Armstrong: ‘We are attempting to stimulate an ethos of care over anonymous confessional material online. Everything about how the site looks, functions and feels, every timed transition and choice of words has been made with this aim in mind: to use The International Archive of Things Left Unsaid to make a space which moves away from consumption and towards care and empathy in how it presents, processes and receives emotional material from the public.’
The International Archive of Things Left Unsaid is a predominantly audio experience, a place to go to listen to others. Visitors to the site enter through The Public Index which indicates the broad themes that form the heart of each complete testimony, offering a preview to each contribution. Each testimony is read by Rhiannon herself, and is delivered almost verbatim. All testimonies are anonymised and a text version is available for visitors with hearing impairments. Visitors are invited to then contribute their own story to the site once they have listened to one of the testimonies. In a movement away from the mass consumption of confessional material online, visitors to The International Archive of Things Left Unsaid can only listen to one testimony every two days to promote a space for real reflection and consideration of the words and feelings of others.
As someone who has suffered from chronic daily migraine for the last two years, Rhiannon is almost always in a state of sensory overload with a hyper-sensitivity to light, sounds and smells. As a result she has developed an appreciation of slower and calmer experiences and has carefully considered the pace of The International Archive of Things Left Unsaid, with lulling transitions between things loading. Rhiannon hopes that the site will become a space that people choose to return to and spend time in, somewhere that feels different to other places online, a space where difficult thoughts and feelings can just be, no matter what they are.
Rhiannon Armstrong’s previous work includes collaborations with the interactive theatre company Coney, curator Simon Gould, esteemed academic Professor Adrian Heathfield, and a recent position at the management consultancy SHM Productions making participatory work for organisational development. The International Archive of Things Left Unsaid heralds her first foray into the world of digital art.
Visit The International Archive of Things Left Unsaid: www.unsaidarchive.com