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Echo Effect

How do we deal with memories we inherit from others? How do they shape us and how can we engage with their significance, as well as the various meanings that can be attributed to them over time and across individuals?

Echo Effect, a sound and sculptural installation by musician and visual artist Dom Bouffard, explores how each of us deals with inherited memories: the memories that have shaped our lives, but which we did not personally live through. These memories shape individuals through family history, storytelling, visual and historical cues, specific emotional narratives, ultimately contributing to their own identity. The Echo Effect installation is in many ways an instrument that allows participants to “play” their explorations of inherited memories.

Dom Bouffard placing memories on the installation. Worlding Art Residency and Project Space in May 2023.

The installation consists of a deconstructed electric guitar, its strings and sensors disembowelled, its strings tied to chromed steel wires stretched between the raw steel bars of the installation. Mementos of the artists’ inherited memories are hung, each visually deconstructed using a visual archaeology method that reveals relations among different roles and traumas of memory, and gesturally marked with ink by Dom Bouffard to make them into musical scores.

The installation functions as an exploded electric guitar, with sensors that, just like the instrument in its usual configuration, pick up vibrations from the entire structure.

Air, the mementos of inherited memories hanging between the strings, and other movements including audience interactions allow the installation to be played and continually produce live sound. These sounds are collected, processed, and produced into a stream of sound by an algorithm programmed by experimental sound developer Nick Burge, which is then played back randomly through multiple speakers, creating a generative immersive experience.

Dr Pablo de Orellana inside the installation “playing” the guitar. Worlding Art Residency and Project Space in May 2023.

A collaborative and an interdisciplinary project

Echo Effect is an interdisciplinary artistic, memory, and scholarly collaboration led by musician and visual artist Dom Bouffard, who first created a deconstructed guitar installation in 2022, Dr Pablo de Orellana, an international relations scholar from King’s College London, who contributed the approach to creating visual archaeologies, Nick Burge, who wrote the algorithm that made the sound possible, and KCL alumna Vanesa Valcheva that created the fanzine accompanying this project. Bouffard and de Orellana were first brought together in early 2023 by curator Cécile Bourne-Farrel, who helped outline and define the vision and practical implications of the project. The project was then generously supported by Worlding Art Residency and Project Space, who provided an art residence for Bouffard and the team to develop the project in May 2023, and the Department of War Studies at King;s College London, who funded the pilot project.

Dom Bouffard painting. Worlding Art Residency and Project Space in May 2023.

Learn more about the ideas behind the project from collaborators Dom Bouffard and Dr Pablo de Orellana in the video below.

Project status: Ongoing