J's Story (2020)

“J’s Story” was created as part of the interdisciplinary project Everyday Voices & Voids at the University of Washington. The text is taken from the voice interaction data of one user’s Google Assistant. Each scene drops the needle at a different point in the four years of data that “J” gave for this project. Each excerpt is unedited (though names and places have been changed for privacy) and sometimes includes mis-hearings by the Google Assistant. Hours are compressed into seconds, as the temporal spacings are proportional to how they originally occurred.

The film combines performance footage with graphic novel-esque sequences and animated timelines. Underscored by Bonnie Whiting’s spoken performance, instrumental gestures, and noises from everyday objects, J’s queries take on dramatic (and comedic) weight, as viewers may attempt to assemble a narrative of this person. Filmed during the covid-19 lockdown of 2020, the domestic settings become the stage for what viewers might imagine of J’s life, while the drawings by Danny Clay remind us that the character we imagine is of our own fiction.

Yiheng Yvonne Wu: story, direction
Bonnie Whiting: percussion, speech, staging
Danny Clay: art, video
Everyday Voices & Voids, PI’s: Audrey Desjardins, Afroditi Psarra, and Bonnie Whiting