A virtual laugh-in for survivors of sexual violence, facilitated through an interactive audio website.
Laughing Web Dot Space is a simple project I developed for four years.
The URL: laughingweb.space
Visitors to this website have the option to laugh, or to listen. If they activate the “listen” button, they activate the compiled laughter of everyone who has contributed their laughter to the website. Visitors that self-identify as survivors of sexual violence are invited to record their laughter and join in, no questions asked. To do so, the user presses the “record” button on the site – which will submit their recorded laughter directly to the site’s admin (Erin) for integration into the master laugh-track.
I made laughingweb.space as a virtual sonic monument but also as a kind of public/private space for laughter. Whether the laughter is sincere or not, there is a lot of research that demonstrates that even going through the mechanics of joy gives some physiological benefit. Laughing can be made in a spirit of hope, of encouragement, or wicked defiance – my hope is that people will be able to experience the space as a way to feel solidarity and togetherness with other (anonymous) survivors.
The site is officially launched on October 3rd, 2018! But I still consider it to be in Beta, because it currently is only fully-functional on the latest build of Firefox browser. But hey, little steps. I’m going to get it running on Chrome soon.
Dedicated to Cheryl L’hirondelle
This project was commissioned by Eastern Bloc (Montreal) on the occasion of their 10th anniversary exhibition. For this exhibition, Eastern Bloc invited the exhibiting media artists to present work while thinking of linkages to Canadian media artists that inspired them when they were young. I’m extremely honored and grateful for the conversations that Cheryl L’hirondelle shared with me while I was developing this project.
When I was just beginning to dabble in media art in art school, the net-based artworks of Cheryl L’hirondelle demonstrated to me the power of combining art with sound and songwriting, community building, and other gestures of solidarity, on the internet. Exposure to her work was meaningful to me – I was looking for examples of other women using their voices with technology. Skawennati is another great artist that was creating participative web works in the late 90s and early 2000s – you can check out her cyberpowwow here.