Carlin Wragg
Kevin Bleich

Found Letters: Jack and Matilda

"Found Letters: Jack and Matilda" is an interactive video sculpture through which readers explore a novel-in-verse set in Vichy France in 1944.

Collective Storytelling

"Found Letters: Jack and Matilda" is an interactive video sculpture through which readers explores the experience of narrative-building, the creation of character, and the moment of discovery. Envisioned as a proof-of-concept project for a series of story-based art installations, this piece forms the foundation for an immersive novel-in-verse set in Vichy France in 1944.

Our target audience includes poets and historians, artists and readers, especially those intrigued by new and novel interactions.

User Scenario
In the open rolltop desk before you you see a series of cubbies stuffed with old letters and black-and-white snapshots. You notice that the envelopes have been addressed by the same hand, and that they bear stamps but no postmarks.

Curious, you unfold one of the letters. At first you see a blank page, but as the paper opens, words appear — they are written in the same hand that addressed the envelopes. You find yourself enveloped in an immersive soundscape, and you hear a woman's voice. She is reading the words on the page. You listen a while, following along as the handwritten letter reveals its text in time with the woman's voice. Then you return the paper to its envelope. The soundscape fades away.

You open one of the desk drawers. As you do, the interior of the drawer becomes a screen on which a sequence of old photographs gradually reveals itself. You hear a man's voice reading a letter. When the sequence is finished, you close the now-blank-again drawer and the images fade away.

As you explore all of the desk's treasures you gradually reveal the story of a woman, Matilda, married to a military doctor, Jack, whom she met in occupied Paris in 1944. The more you explore, the more you realize you’re “reading” a love story that, you suspect, won’t turn out well. Just as you would when discovering a collection of archival letters, with this immersive but fictional letter collection, you are the one who discovers the story, and who reveals as much or as little of it as you choose.

In this iteration of "Found Letters: Jack and Matilda", we are using camera vision, projection mapping, animation, and multi-channel surround sound to create an immersive story world through wires-free, natural interactions.