Collective Narrative Final - In Memory

For my final project in Collective Narrative, I wanted to go out of my comfort zone and try a concept that I wasn't sure how it would play out.  I wanted to combine technical aspects with storytelling, the classroom space and also attempt to include all the students in this storytelling experience. I wanted to have this projects to be a collective story.


In Memory

I wanted to create a man's life, that had passed away, to appear in our minds as the students in the class participated in telling the stories about the man from pushing a peddle at their will.


I created funeral scene.  In the middle of the circular-position desks of the class room I built a coffin and had it draped with a black cloth.

I recorded stories of friends that have had a male pass away in their lives.  It could either be someone close to them or a friend's story.  I recorded 14 stories, one for each student in the class. I asked that each story not include a location, name, or reason for why he passed away so that there were not conflicting stories in the project.


I then wired up 14 foot peddles to an Arduino and played the audio pieces using serial communication and p5.js on a local server.

Here is the Arduino code:

const int switchOnePin = 19; // the number of the pushbutton pin
const int switchTwoPin = 2;
const int switchThreePin = 3;
const int switchFourPin = 4;
const int switchFivePin = 5;
const int switchSixPin = 6;
const int switchSevenPin = 7;
const int switchEightPin = 8;
const int switchNinePin = 9;
const int switchTenPin = 10;
const int switchElevenPin = 11;
const int switchTwelvePin = 12;
const int switchThirteenPin = 13;
const int switchFourteenPin = 14;

bool switchOnePressed = false;
bool switchTwoPressed = false;
bool switchThreePressed = false;
bool switchFourPressed = false;
bool switchFivePressed = false;
bool switchSixPressed = false;
bool switchSevenPressed = false;
bool switchEightPressed = false;
bool switchNinePressed = false;
bool switchTenPressed = false;
bool switchElevenPressed = false;
bool switchTwelvePressed = false;
bool switchThirteenPressed = false;
bool switchFourteenPressed = false;
// variables will change:
int switchState = 0; // variable for reading the pushbutton status

void setup() {
 // setup serial
 // initialize the pushbutton pin as an input:
 pinMode(switchOnePin, INPUT);
 pinMode(switchTwoPin, INPUT);
 pinMode(switchThreePin, INPUT);
 pinMode(switchFourPin, INPUT);
 pinMode(switchFivePin, INPUT);
 pinMode(switchSixPin, INPUT);
 pinMode(switchSevenPin, INPUT);
 pinMode(switchEightPin, INPUT);
 pinMode(switchNinePin, INPUT);
 pinMode(switchTenPin, INPUT);
 pinMode(switchElevenPin, INPUT);
 pinMode(switchTwelvePin, INPUT);
 pinMode(switchThirteenPin, INPUT);
 pinMode(switchFourteenPin, INPUT);
void loop() {
 if (!switchOnePressed) {
 switchState = digitalRead(switchOnePin);
 if (switchState == LOW) {
 switchOnePressed = true;

if (!switchTwoPressed) {
 switchState = digitalRead(switchTwoPin);
 if (switchState == LOW) {
 switchTwoPressed = true;
if (!switchThreePressed) {
 switchState = digitalRead(switchThreePin);
 if (switchState == LOW) {
 switchThreePressed = true;

if (!switchFourPressed) {
 switchState = digitalRead(switchFourPin);
 if (switchState == LOW) {
 switchFourPressed = true;

if (!switchFivePressed) {
 switchState = digitalRead(switchFivePin);
 if (switchState == LOW) {
 switchFivePressed = true;
if (!switchSixPressed) {
 switchState = digitalRead(switchSixPin);
 if (switchState == LOW) {
 switchSixPressed = true;

if (!switchSevenPressed) {
 switchState = digitalRead(switchSevenPin);
 if (switchState == LOW) {
 switchSevenPressed = true;
if (!switchEightPressed) {
 switchState = digitalRead(switchEightPin);
 if (switchState == LOW) {
 switchEightPressed = true;

if (!switchNinePressed) {
 switchState = digitalRead(switchNinePin);
 if (switchState == LOW) {
 switchNinePressed = true;

if (!switchTenPressed) {
 switchState = digitalRead(switchTenPin);
 if (switchState == LOW) {
 switchTenPressed = true;
if (!switchElevenPressed) {
 switchState = digitalRead(switchElevenPin);
 if (switchState == LOW) {
 switchElevenPressed = true;

if (!switchTwelvePressed) {
 switchState = digitalRead(switchTwelvePin);
 if (switchState == LOW) {
 switchTwelvePressed = true;

if (!switchThirteenPressed) {
 switchState = digitalRead(switchThirteenPin);
 if (switchState == LOW) {
 switchThirteenPressed = true;
if (!switchFourteenPressed) {
 switchState = digitalRead(switchFourteenPin);
 if (switchState == LOW) {
 switchFourteenPressed = true;

Here is the p5.js code:

var serial; // variable to hold an instance of the serialport library
var fromSerial = 0; //variable to hold the data
var buttonValue;
var currentVoice;
var lindseyD;
var orianaNTwo;

function preload() {
 lindseyD = loadSound('assets/LD.mp3');
 orianaNTwo = loadSound('assets/ON2.mp3');

function setup() {
 serial = new p5.SerialPort(); // make a new instance of serialport librar 
 serial.on('list', printList); // callback function for serialport list event
 serial.on('data', serialEvent); // callback for new data coming in 
 serial.list(); // list the serial ports"/dev/cu.usbmodem1421"); // open a port

function draw() {


function switchAudio(newVoice) {
 if (currentVoice && currentVoice.stop) {
 currentVoice = newVoice;;
 playing = true;

// get the list of ports:
function printList(portList) {
 for (var i = 0; i < portList.length; i++) {
 // Display the list the console:
 console.log(i + " " + portList[i]);


function serialEvent() {
 var inString = serial.readLine();
 if (inString.length > 0) {
 inString = inString.trim();
 buttonValue = Number(inString); 
 if(buttonValue === 2){

 if(buttonValue === 3) {

The only rules I gave to the class when I started the experiment was that you can push you peddle whenever you like, but you only have one chance to do so.

There are two aspects to this projects that I was curious how it would play out:

  1. the social dynamics of how groups participate in a collective storytelling experience. Are people shy with participating? Are they quick to interact? Especially since they were only able to contribute their story once.
  2. We we be able to create the life of the individual that has died at the funeral by having different stories told by different people and be able to know him better even if he is a fictional person? Can we create this "man" in our minds from the stories that we hear from his loved ones in the room?
I wanted to observe the dynamics of a group storytelling experience where each person was given the agency to contribute to the overall narrative by asserting their contribution by hitting their foot pedal which triggers an audio recorded story.

Class 4 Readings + Object assignment

In the reading, Leslie Bedford talks about how storytelling, if done correctly, can have a profound effect, a "transformative experience" to the viewer.  I truly feel that the most well told stories have an ever lasting effect on the individual and these are the type of stories that I want to create.  It helps to keep a critical eye on the reason why you are telling the story and if the correct message and feeling is being captured. "...stories are powerful because they do not fill in all the blanks. They open up a space into which the listener's own thoughts, feelings and memories can flow and expand. They inspire an internal dialogue and this ensure a real connection."  - Garrison Keillor. This is a really powerful quote that I think should be something that I refer back to whenever I try to tell a story. With this in mind, now that I reflect, some of the films that I worked on in the past that were less successful were the ones that had way too much dialogue and detail leaving no room for the individual viewer's interpretation.

For my object assignment, I wanted to work with a different medium.  Thus using slides as my object seemed like a perfect nostalgic way to tell my story about the origin of the slides and how I came to possess them.


I wanted to project the slides on the wall as I talked about the their story.  Here is a 360 video that shows me going through the slides for the first time at my house:

Here is the story I attached to the slide show in class: Fist Full of Slides - Object for Collective Narrative