The Unnamable

Immersive multimedia installation for stereo sound, tactile transducer, video projection, and glass projection helmet
Video by Amanda Justice

Inspired by Samuel Beckett’s novel, The Unnamable, this immersive installation puts the viewer in the place of the narrator; who finds himself in a featureless unidentified location, and remains confined in a seated position, unable to move for the entirety of the novel. As the story unfolds, the narrator’s attention shifts and we are transported throughout the landscapes of his memory and imagining.

Approaching the installation, the viewer is instructed to take a seat on a simple wooden chair, put on the attached headphones, and to place their head within a glass projection helmet that envelops their entire field of vision. Immersive projected imagery and a sound score played through the headphones (reverberations attenuated by the glass enclosure) cut off the viewer’s connection to the outside world while a tactile transducer anchors their sense of touch to the chair.

Fragmentary excerpts of Beckett’s novel compose the spoken libretto; a sonic landscape emerges around and underneath the words. When the narrator attempts to go silent, he fails—he continues to listen, continues to see, continues to make, and to remember. It is like a requiem for the undead, full of the dignity of the unwinnable struggle. And with him, we are faced with our own terrible and delightful responsibility to create the world anew at each moment.

The Unnamable has also been presented as an immersive group experience: