The experimental process of collaborative storytelling in the dark that I’ve developed is ongoing and open to invitations by commissions in different contexts. The title NoNothing refers to the notion of nothingness and yet somethignness, or how to make something out of nothing. Of not knowing, yet knowing. The dark space creates a collective unconscious space, both intimate and anonymous, where participants develop together a way of creating a story. The narrative can be linear, or completely abstract. The sessions are recorded and then become public; they can be transcribed or used as a sound piece. The collective storytelling in the dark is a little like a music jamming / improvisation session, where anything can happen and tend to reflect how people feel on that particular day, what they bring to the space and how they interact as a group. The sessions are limited to English, but participants can come with friends who are able to translate.
As the Practitioner in Residence on the MA Fine Art Program in Chelsea College of Art during 2016-17, I created NoNothing. NoNothing comprises of a series of open salons held in the dark. This is an experimental format that intend to offer a sensory and informal shared space where (partial) darkness evokes the overlooked.
The room is made dark before the salon starts, which somehow became part of the process (there was no dark space, such as a projection space in Chelsea during this period). The room (first the old student bar – now part of the canteen, then – Punctum Gallery) gets locked and there is no way in or out until the salons are over, to make sure that light is not emitted and that the heterotopic space is not broken.
The five salons were curated with Brian Dawn Chalkley and open to proposals from staff and students and centered around sound works. I shared a talk from Gregg Bordowitz from 2015 about containers, mood, digital and analogue nothingness and loss, including poetry reading by Donald Wood and Gerhard Rühm. Lazeez Raimi mixed sounds live; ‘deep, heavy, hypnotic sound that fills the void between the hollow created between your eyebrows and the bottom of your gut’. Adam J Walker organized a repetitive reading/ recording experiment from his Negatory Manifesto by a performer. Maria Walsh and students played a prerecorded reading from an October review. Janette Parris and Neal Tait experimented with Parris singing her songs and playing guitar and Tait DJing.
Each salon was followed by informal drinks and conversation.
After the 5 programmed salons I moved to create collaborative experiments in storytelling in the dark. The group includes: Emily Durtnall, Rich Leppard, James Clark, Mark Lungley and Oreet Ashery. The work will be processed collaboratively into a printed text.