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Deanna Tulley Multimedia Contest

January 1, 2021 | My audiovisual collaboration with music and sound artist Derek Muro, 'Pursuit of Sadness', won second place in the 2020 Deanna Tulley Multimedia Contest hosted by Slippery Elm Literary Journal. Our video was selected by judge Shin Yu Pai, an award-winning writer, photographer, and editor based in the Pacific Northwest, from among more submissions than they've ever received before.

‘Pursuit of Sadness’ is built around the following repeating words displayed on screen as handwritten notes, which are interspersed with other images:

he gets himself a balloon

he lets it fly away

he flees to the attic

he cries

Born from a dream in which a friend said her 2 year-old son sought to experience the depth of sadness, it’s a simple story on its surface. But repetition changes it. We can’t get that initial pureness of feeling when we go through the same motions over and over. And eventually sadness may turn into a new experience, such as letting go.

Over 7 repetitions we start to perceive the story differently as well, and as the soundtrack changes from literal to more abstract the immediacy of feelings fade, and we are left less with sadness than a feeling of peace and hopefulness.

Collaborating with my lifelong friend and YouTooCanWoo studio partner Derek is always an elevating experience. I had the photographs assembled and the concept in mind when I came to him, expressing my audio vision in a mixture of technical terms and personal shorthand. Through emails and video calls we got into a workflow even in the absence of any in-person contact - and he knocked it out of the park. I recommend listening in good headphones or with the volume turned up on your best speakers, because it's the soundscape Derek created that makes it for me.

Special thanks to Elizabeth Demaray and the Art Student League for providing the framework and support for this project.

You can watch this and the other winners in Slippery Elm's Multimedia Gallery.


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