'Fading Memories' is a co-operative board game designed by Matteo Menapace during his time as artist in residence at the V&A in 2019. As part of 'Digital Design Weekend' 21-22 September 2019, there was a live playthrough of the game at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
Part of this playthrough experience involved both live painting (by Aimee) and live sound performance (by me). Rather than simply performing a sound piece, I wanted to reinforce the core elements of Matteo's game experience; the sharing of stories and co-operative/collaborative aspect of playing.
Image copyright © Matteo Menapace
The game is a 'hack' of the classic board game 'memory' where you turn over tiles in hopes of finding pairs. Matteo's hack is instead about memory loss. Rather than playing against other players, each player works together to 'save' memories from fading away, and this is done through sharing stories.
Matteo was inspired to make this game after his grandmother passed away from dementia. The game is called 'fading memories' because as soon as you share a story it starts 'fading' under 'memory loss' cards. Having recently lost my own grandmother to dementia I immediately knew the various 'abstracts' that I wanted to communicate. On one end there would be confusion, fragmentation, loss, emptiness, anxiousness. On the other, we would have elation, happiness, childhood, nostalgia
To begin with, my main thoughts were to:
- record the stories of the players as they played the game
- use that recorded audio to create:
- not have the performance interrupt the playthrough
- create an environment conducive to sharing
The main concern was that players would begin to feel self-conscious if they heard their own voices played back to them. Not many people like the sound of their own voice, and if the game is about sharing personal stories then hearing your own voice would make you very aware that these personal stories are being recorded. Again, leading to self-consciousness.
Therefore, the creative problem I had to tackle was how to manipulate the incoming audio to the point where it became unrecognisable to the players so that it would not negatively affect their experience.
And if I could warp the audio to that point, how could it be utilised in live performance?
To begin with, I used a process similar to the one created for 'The Internal Library'; take the incoming audio from a single source microphone, shared by all the players, and have it become affected through a customised rack of effect units. However for this project, it would be important that the audio isn't a 1:1 manipulation. I wanted the incoming audio to create rhythms, melodies, and ethereal soundscapes.
Within Ableton, I began constructing a series of playable 'instruments' that all shared the same source sound: the stories told by the players. To illustrate:
Each performance was 1-hour long. This is a small excerpt of the type of audio that was generated from the live sampling process
Due to the personal nature of the topic (dementia), I have begun work on short collection of composed pieces in response to the entire experience. Above is a draft version of the first piece: 'Remember'.
Interested in learning more, visit: https://fadingmemories.shop where you can learn more about the project, download a free print&play version, and even purchase the beautiful physical copy of the game.