I really enjoy the interactive stories from the National Film Board of Canada. I’ve analyzed many of them on this blog. Today I checked out Bread: A common story that connects us all. Here’s the description:

Artist and social innovator Mariette Sluyter’s Bread opens the oven door on the practice of baking bread and highlights the way it connects to our cultural emotional wellbeing. An experiment in human connectivity and interactive storytelling, Bread allows us to take a peek into the lives of six older women from very different backgrounds, all of whom share a passion for bread making.


Bread focuses on six different women who bake bread. You can watch a video of each of them baking bread and telling a brief (3-5 minute) story about their lives in voice-over. You can also read their bread recipes. So far, I’ve watched the videos and read the recipes for 3 out of the 6 women.

This project is very compelling. Both the theme and the structure of the project aren’t overly complicated. Full screen videos of six different women baking bread in their homes + voice-over narrations about their life. The main page is a grid of images of six kitchens. When you scroll over the kitchen, a picture of the woman who bakes in that kitchen appears. Click on her, and a full screen video of her baking starts playing. At the top of the video screen are links to the break recipe and “all stories.”

I like how the video combines silent footage of the women baking bread with background music and voice-over from a separate interview. As I write this last sentence I wonder, How does the choice to mute the kitchen scene, both the sounds of the baking and the women themselves, shape the story? How would we experience the story differently if we could hear those sounds? Does muting the actual noises of baking disconnect us from the physical process of making bread? Would it be possible to create a video project where you gave the audience the choice of hearing the kitchen noises…and maybe even some of the raw footage of the interview?

Background Sounds

I really like the combination of sounds that plays in the background of Similkameen Crossroads. It’s a mix of organ music with footsteps, moving through the grass and into the church. For The Farm project, I’d like Room 34’s soundscapes to combine found sounds (walking through the tall grass?, wind in the trees?, barn doors opening, a rag rug loom banging, birds chirping) with composed fragments of songs.


With the help of Scott (Room 34), I’ve decided to tentatively call the farm “rooms” Roominations. The name came about when I was recounting to Scott one of my favorite quotations by Judith Butler and how it fits with one goal for the rooms:

But here I would ask for your patience since it turns out that critique is a practice that requires a certain amount of patience in the same way that reading, according to Nietzsche, required that we act a bit more like cows than humans and learn the art of slow rumination (307).

Yes! Being at the farm, where time was much slower (my best friend Jenny named it, “the place where time stands still”), encouraged me to be patient and inspired me to want to stop and think about…everything. I deeply miss that space; I haven’t been able to find any other location that encourages as much reflection as the farm did. The farm rooms/roominations are my attempt to (re)create spaces that encourage this deep and slow thinking.

Contented cows on the farm.
Contented cows on the farm.

Even though it might be a little cheesy, I like calling these rooms “roominations.” Unlike the term rumination, which focuses on the act of ruminating, roomination also focuses on where that act take place (it’s not just an act; it’s a process located in a specific place). I also like calling these roominations because the farm was, for many years, a dairy farm. My dad has fond memories of milking and bonding with the cows. It seems fitting to reference that past.

Immersive Rooms

A key part of this project is the creation of a series of farm “rooms.” These rooms combine soundscapes (looped tracks + found sounds), images, video footage, text and voice-over to create immersive spaces that enable you to feel like you are at the farm. But, what does it mean to “feel” like you’re at the farm? For me, being at the farm always made be feel inspired by the landscapes and the buildings to pause and reflect on my life. It allowed me to get away and achieve  some critical distance from the entrenched habits of my daily life. But the farm didn’t feel like an escape from the “real” world, but a homecoming to the place (the spirit, the people) that nurtured and supported me, allowing me to “be who I was and enjoy who I was.” Currently, I’m working on two “rooms” that focus on the feelings of getting away and being nurtured. Here’s a (very) preliminary video mock-up of what those rooms will look/feel like: