The Forgotten Sin
a ritual space for melancholia

A Work Sample

Play the above audio as you explore this documentation. This original music by John King was developed alongside the installation and underscored the audience/participants exploration of the space.

Melancholia
Mrs. Dalloway
The Anatomy of Melancholy
Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics

Image: Primary Textual Inspiration

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginal Woolf

This text influenced the aesthetic tone of the space. It had a significant impact on my composer, when crafting the sound for the space. 

Image: Primary Textual Inspiration

The Anatomy of Melancholy by Richard Burton

This text shaped my approach to the concept of melancholia and the philosophy surrounding it, influencing the arc of this installation.

Image: Primary Textual Inspiration

Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics 

by Dan Harris and Jeff Warren with Carlye Adler

This text heavily inspired the meditative rituals present in the installation.

The Melanchorium

Image: Melanchorium Door Sign

Acknowledge. Indulge. Unravel.

A carefully crafted scent greets audience/participants as they step into the Melanchorium.

Forgotten Ingredients
Forgotten Drops
Forgotten Percents

Image: Ingredients for Custom Scent named Forgotten

Hedione, Stemone, and Geosmin

Image: Ratios of Ingredients and test strips

Eight rounds of mixing the ingredients to craft a perfect balance.

Image: Percentage Chart

Converting ratios to percentages to make large amounts of scent.

The primary ingredients of the Melanchorium were white fabric, fluff, lights, and hope.

 
 

Ingredients of the Melanchorium

An Entry into Melancholia

Before entering the Melanchorium audience/participants were invited to interact with the three primary texts that influenced the making of The Forgotten Sin: A Ritual Space for Melancholia and listen to an audio introduction that introduced some background about the forgotten sin and walked audience/participants through the first meditative ritual. You can read a transcript of the audio here

This practice as research exploration investigated three primary research questions:

  1. How might the “lost” sin, melancholia, manifest performatively in the 21st century and what can we learn from these modern manifestations?

  2. Using sensory performance scores how can one open audience/participants to the experience/acknowledgment of their own melancholia?

  3. How might using phenomenological storytelling methods for the entirety of a piece influence the reception and impact of said work?

through an interactive installation, called the Melanchorium, that intentionally engaged the five senses. ​This work sample outlines the performance scores that inhabited the Melanchorium. Feel free to enact them with household objects to better understand your own melancholia.

Research Questions

 
Melanchorium Cloud Cover
Melanchorium Storm Cloud

Image: Ceiling of the Melanchorium

Clouds, Fairy Lights, Aluminium Foil

Image: A Storm Cloud in the Melanchorium

Fluff, White Fabric, A Flickering Light

encountering the first performance score:
A Folding Meditation

A Folding Meditation--Revealed

Image: The First Ritual Meditation in Overhead Lighting

A Three-Part Performance Score

I

  • Place your hands in the bowl of water

  • Consider the last time you cried. Were you happy, sad, overwhelmed, disappointed?

  • What stands out to you about that moment? The event, people, emotion?

  • Inhale and acknowledge this feeling. Exhale and release it.

  • Remove your hands from the water.

II

  • Select a square of paper and watch how the water from your hands moves across it.

  • Place your paper in front of you like this:

  • Fold the top corner into the center of your paper and crease the fold.

  • Rotate and repeat. Fold the corners into the center until you cannot fold your paper anymore

  • Take a deep breath and press your paper flat. Exhale and release it

  • Begin unfolding your paper one fold at a time, pressing each unfold flat.

  • Continue unfolding and rotating until your paper is completely unfolded.

III

  • Repeat the folding and unfolding as many times as you like, executing each (un)fold with intention

  • On each (un)fold, exhale. On each rotation, inhale.

  • As you inhale, consider what brought you here today. As you exhale, release any external obligations.

  • Are they difficult to release? If so, focus on one as you rotate and (un)fold, inhale and exhale. What about this particular thing makes it hard to release? Is it worrying, exciting, boring?

  • Inhale and acknowledge this thing. Exhale and bring your focus to your (un)folding.

  • Create a mantra for yourself or use one of the following:

I choose to release what does not serve me right now.

My presence holds power.

I am here. I am now. I am enough.

      Repeat your mantra as you (un)fold as 

      many times as feels useful

A Folding Meditation - Traces
A Folding Meditation

Image: A Folding Meditation

a paper folded as much as it can be folded

Image: Traces of A Folding Meditation

The (Un)Foldings of all the Audience/Participants

encountering the second performance score: Wallow in Worries

Wallow in Worries

Image: The Second Ritual Meditation

A Two-Part Performance Score

I

  • When did you last feel melancholic?

  • Was it about something specific? Or more general?

  • Did you sit with it? Acknowledge it? Learn from it?

  • Try to recall this sensation of melancholia. What does it feel, taste, smell, sound, and look like?

  • Breathe in this feeling. Can you find pleasure in it?

  • What, if anything, draws you to this melancholia?

II

  • Select a piece of paper and a marker.

  • Write out what draws you to melancholia.

  • Inhale and release this paper into the bowl of water

  • Exhale and swirl the water. Watch it vanish.

  • As this connection vanishes, bring yourself back into the present.

 
 
Wallow in Worries - Day 2 Traces
Wallow in Worries - Day 3 Traces
Wallow in Worries - Day 1 Traces

Image: The Second Ritual Meditation Traces

Day One Colour of Melancholia

Image: The Second Ritual Meditation Traces

Day Two Colour of Melancholia

Image: The Second Ritual Meditation Traces

Day Three Colour of Melancholia

encountering the third performance score:
A Collective Unravelling

A Collective Unravelling

Image: Traces of the Third Ritual Meditation

A Performance Score in a Series of Prompts

Unravel as much of these weaving as feels meaningful

Indulge in what you have unwoven

What will you do with what you've undone?

Reweave it?

Drape it?

Leave it?

Unravel as quickly as you can.

How does this make you feel?

Unravel as slowly as you can.

How does this make you feel?

A Weaving to be Unravelled
A Collective Unweaving
A Collective Unravelling

Image: A Weaving to be Unwoven

Suspended Natural Coloured Crochet

Image: A Weaving to be Unwoven

Suspended White Crochet

Image: Several Weavings to be Unwoven

A Selection of Multi-Coloured Crochet

A Final Encounter

Around the final bend I sit, draped in yarn, crocheting a weaving meant to be unravelled. I invite the audience/participant to sit with me to watch me work. If they are open to it, I engage them in conversation, reflecting the role of melancholia in a modern world.

Mistress of Melancholia

Sample Text

Do you ever look at someone and think, "Wow! They are so successful. They must know some secret I don't"? It happens to me all the time. And then I look at myself next to these amazing people and go, "Wow. Next to them I feel so unbelievably small. I've accomplished nothing."

I've started to wonder, though, as I'm looking at these people that make me go "Wow," what they're thinking when they look at me. I wonder if they aren't thinking the same thing, you know, but in reverse? They're looking at me and thinking, "Wow! They're so confident, they must have it all figured out."

It just goes to show that we never really know what's going on in someone's head. That's why I like it here in the Melanchorium. It's simple, just me and my thoughts. Well, usually just me.

Did you know it only it only takes sixteen weeks to make a habit? Sixteen weeks of consistently doing something to make it part of your daily routine or an unconscious thought pattern. Sixteen weeks--that's about four months or a third of a year. I've inhabited the Melanchorium for a lot longer than that. I wonder what's become an unconscious thought pattern?

When I get trapped in these thought patterns I don’t like it can be easier to put it into my weaving. Take the thoughts out of myself and manifest them into something physical. But sometimes that means I don’t like what I weave. Sometimes it’s better to unravel it all, releasing that energy back into the universe, sending it away from me. Or unravel it back to before I started having those thoughts.

And then, I begin again. And so the weaving grows. And so life continues. And so the Melanchorium endures.

Thank you for joining me in the Melanchorium.

Image: The Mistress of Melancholia

Weaving through a Conversation

A Return to the Exterior World

Upon exiting the Melanchorium, audience/participants are greeted with oat milk and cookies and offered the opportunity to reflect upon their experiences.

Oat Milk and Cookies

Image: Oat Milk and Cookies

A Final Reflection

 
 
 
 

Audience / Participant Testimony

Below is selected anonymous testimony from audience/participants who experienced the Melanchorium in its original form from 24 - 26 September, 2022.

Really provocative and soothing at the same time, to be guided and freed into an exploration of the lost sin of melancholia. Rethinking.

Being in this place made me realize how badly I want to feel agency.

Not knowing what to expect, I found that to be an incredible immersive experience.  I have been experiencing personal difficulty. Your melancholia space has genuinely helped me today to put some of my issues in context.

I think melancholia is useful and enjoyable even — especially as I get older. I don’t want to rid myself of it — but also not be overwhelmed by it — acknowledging and making space for melancholia seems important.

I am rarely still — stillness and slowness is a challenge — and nothingness (or as close as I can get) usually is only reached in deep water. The Melanchorium encouraged slowness in stillness. I could have stayed longer.

Thank you for your interest in The Forgotten Sin: A Ritual Space for Melancholia