In 2019, I threw a brief series of parties in my hometown, Regina, Saskatchewan, that left me wondering whether it was possible for me to relive them, or desirable to try to recreate them. During the alienation of the COViD-19 pandemic, I reached out to my friends and colleagues with questions first about parties, and then about memory. A party, I thought, is much like a memory: evasive, and ungraspable unless experienced directly.
Memory Theatre is a two-part multi-channel immersive sound installation that takes influence from this conundrum. A thirty-foot-tall near pitch-black room houses the ambient sound of a walk through the city at night. Within that cavernous space, a twelve-foot by twelve-foot box, or, room within a room, houses a second sound installation that plays from speakers embedded inside the walls. A recorded conversation over the phone plays in this room against the backdrop of thumping dance music: “Yo,” says one person, “I’m lost.” “So you need to get to Checkmate?” says the other. A long meandering description of how to get to the club unfolds, followed by another long description of the club’s interior, including various opinions and details of the space and attendees.
Taking advantage of sound’s embodied and affective potential, Memory Theatre makes a site out of an impossible psychic space, where the party is always arriving but never reached. An object of lack, the party gives way to the potential of remembering itself.