Tell the Story

“Tell the Story” is a study on the misreadings arising from translating among casual speech, print, and digital media, and the not-so-transparent influence of digital media formats.

Premiered at the Electronic Literature Organization conference (in conjunction with DHSI and INKE, so a really big crowd!) created with Elisabeth Blair.

It’s the first featured piece representing the exhibition on Narrabase

More info at

The Experience

As the audience enters the installation space, they will hear spoken “verses” and “choruses,” drawn from historical accounts of war from transcribed interviews. The “verse” sections are read by Elisabeth Blair with audio glitches introduced by custom software, including dropouts, corrupted streams (as with a bad cellphone signal), and “scrubbing” sounds from rewinding/fast forwarding—such a common mode of taking in digital speech, nonlinearly. The chorus sections are read by many voices in heterophony, highlighting the multitude of inflection that readers might interpret as they read the transcriptions aloud.

As the audience reaches the inside of the installation area, they will see a screen inviting them to record a line of the chorus and join the crowd. Their voice will be heard along with the others who came before.

Jeff Morris is a sound artist who has presented work in venues ranging from the Triennale museum in Milan and Onassis Cultural Center in Athens to the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, from an undeveloped plot of land in Connecticut to the last jook joint in Mississippi. He directs the Performance Technology program at Texas A&M University and was part of the team that got its Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture established as a “landmark research area” at TAMU.

Elisabeth Blair is a published poet, improviser, and folk performer from Chicago. Much of her work draws on rare and one-of-a-kind antique writings and recordings. She recently held a residency with improvisers Karl Berger and Ingrid Sertso.

Related prior works:

Technical needs:

  • 2’x2′ space for laptop on stand, 2 very small speakers of mine, and microphone on stand
  • Electrical power to laptop and speakers
  • Immobile object to attach laptop via security cable

Preferred but optional:

  • House-provided nearfield powered monitor speakers, up to 8
  • Audio cables to connect my female 1/4″ TRS phone outputs to your speakers
  • Power to each speaker
  • Cable management considerations to minimize trip hazards
  • Stands for the speakers
  • Shure SM58 microphone or similar
  • Mic cable
  • Mic stand with boom arm
  • Large display or projection, to use instead of laptop screen
  • HDMI, miniDisplay Port, or VGA cable to connect my computer to your display