Skip to Content

Improvising Virtual Memory Boxes

“Improvising Virtual Memory Boxes” was a research project co-ordinated by a team of researchers from the Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice (ICASP) research project in Guelph, Canada, working with researchers from the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. It was designed and facilitated by Rebecca Caines, John Campbell and Nicholas Loess, all from ICASP, and QUT researcher Bree Hadley. The project aimed to explore the relationship between memory, improvisation, and technology. Researchers were interested in how memories can be collectively created, improvised, and archived, and how humans and technology interact in the process of memory creation and preservation. The project took place in two cities, Guelph, Ontario, and Utrecht, the Netherlands in 2011.

The Guelph project included interactions with local residents in public spaces around the city, as well as a workshop held at the Guelph Public Library as part of Thinking Spaces: The ICASP Improvisation Reading Group and Speaker Series. During the workshop, participants created audio, video, image, and text “memories” which were loaded on site into a brand new, collectively created website:

The Utrecht project also included interactions with local residents on the streets of the city, and a workshop as part of the “shift” program at the 2011 Performance Studies international conference. The website for the 2011 Performance Studies international conference can be found at:

The workshop held at the Museum Maluku in Utrecht, included participation by Professor Renger de Bruin Urban History curator from the Utrecht Central Museum, who recorded his conversations with participants about ancient and modern histories of the city. During the workshop, participants created audio, video, image, and text “memories. Participants in Utrecht also could actively participate in video editing with Loess, and could watch a projection of Campbell formatting and uploading the memories to the collaboratively created website:

So one of the things that improvisation has come to mean in the context of highly technological performance is that improvisation is the last claim to the legitimate presence of a human in the performance of music.

– Bob Ostertag