Birmingham-based sound artist Justin Wiggan (aka Roadside Picnic) has been undertaking a daunting but beautiful series of phonological investigations to recreate memories of people who are at the end stages of their lives. The project is called Life Echo, and Wiggan claims that his process can foster “memory health through phonic wealth.” Life Echo attempts to change how we interact with our own memories, and even how we approach death. Wigan has described ‘a Life Echo’ as “an artistic interpretation of the sounds attached to some of your best memories” and as “a unique, bespoke, work of art”.
Each digital recording is made by eliciting from each participant a series (about four to six) of their own selected memories then enabling the participant to identify a sound trigger for each memory.
The Life Echo is a 10 minute experience, alone or with family. It is not a sound-track of sound effects, but an abstract, therapeutic sound narrative based on the data shared by the participant. The process becomes an iterative one, which in turn reinforces memory recall. The participants are given a recording of these key moments and early, anecdotal research suggests that this has a positive affect on future memory recall.
The need that Life Echo seeks to address is the delay of early stage dementia. The process delivers deep listening and the production of sound files that can help to support memory recall with the premise being that sound-based memories connect on a deeper level than those which are non-sound based.
The last word goes to Wiggan, who says “In a collapsing super-capitalist structure your memory will be the last place they can find you. This is a revolution that started at birth. Life Echo is the future of memory.”

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