Worries Bash — A participatory installation of electroacoustic piñatas

Can the destruction of these interactive worry vessels create space for clarity?

Worries Bash is a participatory installation consisting of recorded worries collected from hundreds of people and presented as part of a continuous audio portrait emanating from fragile papier-mâché sculptures.

When attendees tap or hit the sculpture a worry will come into focus so that it can be heard clearly before again submerging into an abstract murmur. Following the 2016 election Caitlin & Misha began asking people what they are worried about. There are many social situations where it’s unacceptable to express these emotions, even when they are the thoughts weighing most heavily on one’s mind. This project is an opportunity to collect various types of worries and consider the emotional cycles which they represent. Worries Bash culminates with a ceremonial destruction of the sculptures as a means to share and release worries. This pairing of worries with celebration aims to provide some insight into the complexities of the anxieties we live with.

Additionally the exhibition includes a series of visualizations and sonifications generated from both the collected worries archive as well as worry-related Internet searches. The public is invited to record worries at https://worries.io which will be integrated into a future version of the installation. Worries Bash has already taken place in Berlin, Germany, and Boston, USA.

Drawings & Visualizations

This video shows the word cloud generated from a thousand recorded worries. The worries were fed into a SampleRNN neural network in order to generate synthetic worry sounds (thanks to CJ Carr).

Worrisome shifts in the USA’s politics triggered our interest in collecting worries. Leaders are drawing the culture inward while souring relationships with longstanding allies. The emotionalization of events by the media is engendering worries that swirl inside us, trapping us in manufactured anxieties. We have been asking people in our communities what they are worried about and find they have a plethora of concerns at the ready. This project is an opportunity to collect various types of worries and consider similarities in emotional cycles across continents. There are many social situations where it is unacceptable to express these thoughts and emotions, yet we all have them. This exhibition will provide an audio portrait of hundreds of recorded worries emanating from fragile paper mache piñatas. Attendees will be able to bring different worries into focus via their physical interactions with these sculptures. Can the destruction of these worry vessels create space for clarity?

Additional interactive works 5 Quadrillion & Worries by Voice can be found online.