dining room

dining room is an interactive sound installation that explores trauma, grief, and memory. The work fully activates through audience interaction, in two ways: preparation and submission. Preparation: guests arrange various provided sculptures on a table. These are read by sensors, where their arrangement composes an aural poem of fragmented recorded memories. Submission: one must kneel inside the piece, and bow their head in order to receive the newly composed aural poem. This resultant poem tells the story of personal loss and the ways in which grief manifests after the loss of the artist’s grandmother. Operating from the intersection of religious, cultural, and sexual rituals, dining room is one part of a larger poetic series about the fracturing of self-love after tragedy.

“I don’t want ma to die”

“then you do it”

“I don’t want ma to die”

“come fuck me then”

“I don’t want ma to die”

“I love you”

The poem is about intimacy, vulnerability, and also the ‘weirdness’ of death. The title of the work references Gertrude Stein’s famous poem, “Sacred Emily.” The poem describes the tension of signifier, signified and sound. Poetry utilizes this tension, demonstrating context’s role in language’s communicative function. I wanted to explore this with grief—how could I manipulate context to investigate and reveal different aspects of my process of grieving. Even though my grandmothers, Rose & Rose, never knew me as a queer boy, I found more connections between grandson & fag than I had seen before. As my public and private personas were blending, I began to try and see this in my memories of these two women. A Rose is a grandmother, is a woman, is dying, is dead, is me. I began grieving as she was dying; seeing her as my grandmother, a patient, a woman, and how she influenced me. By collaging my memories in different compositions, I can see the prism of grief all at once.


Installation at The Invisible Dog Art Center 

images courtesy of Simon Courchel


Below are several possible sequences the poem could form: