milton and more milton

Post-Prelude showing, we are in a really rich phase of discovery with the piece. This is due in part to the great work and guidance of Ashley Sparks, who has come on board full steam to lead our engagement with the 5 Miltons. Ashley is a visionary and deep thinker when it comes to this stuff and we are starting to really feel settled into the scope and focus of the project.   In part because of feedback after Prelude, we are recognizing the power of the installation as a way of bringing audiences and viewers into our evolving experience of discovering the “realness” of each town.  For us, the towns of Milton have gone from abstract concepts to places on a map to our evolving wonder at all the interesting people who live there, to recognizing the vast and deep complexity of experience contained in this very specific place. The installation opens up this experience:  the objects start off as simply souvenirs, memorializing something like a diner or a college…..and then we carry them with us and it becomes an artifact:  proof that the town exists.  But the object is also a totem, and in a way has almost ritualistic power, evoking these towns that are perhaps unknown by most of the country but still alive, kicking, breathing, and in all cases (for different reasons) trying to reinvent themselves.  The activation of the installation through performance is something that can tap into this ritualistic or totemic energy.

PearlDamour was in New Orleans last weekend having a summit with Durham-based Haymaker as part of our NET Exchange grant (, and before Katie headed back to Providence we spent the day with sound designer/composer Brendan Connelly listening to some of our recorded conversations from Milton trips, which was the first time Brendan had heard many of them.  He immediately latched onto to all the ambient sounds we picked up:  clocks ticking and cuckoo-ing, bowling pins crashing, chairs squeaking…  we’re interested to see how that all filters into the installation, and whether those sounds might be performed live… A couple new partnerships have emerged recently, including one with Brown University: Video artist Jim Findlay is coming to Providence next week to meet with students who will be working with both him and renown Origamist Sok Song to create our portable projection surfaces for the sky video that will serve as the context for the installation and performance.  They’ll spend a semester proposing and building models, and ultimately will create the full-scale version for us to use as we move forward with the project.  Very exciting!

Lisa and Ashley are on their way to visit Milton, LA on Monday… check back in next month for more updates…