The Olive Project

a theoretical reflection || watch || interact

navigation | design


When you enter the interactive archive—which is the result of my experiment in post-documentary oral history (Frisch, 2006)—you will encounter a horizontally scrolling landscape comprised of textual excerpts, voice recordings, and photographic records of my grandmother's life. You may find yourself approaching the archive with the expectation of a guided linear narrative—an expectation that is perhaps heightened by the horizontal layout and flow of the page—but, be warned, such expectations will ultimately and deliberately remain unfulfilled. Rather, the non-sequential, multi-pathed navigational structure that I have designed will channel your movement through a multiple but finite network of scripted paths between thematically or linguistically linked hypertextual keywords—paths that may at times feel arbitrary or disjointed. To participate, you will be forced to interact with my grandma's memories without the comforts of chronology, the ease of passive reception, or even the conventional luxury of a user-friendly scrollbar. The only story that you will encounter in this essentially rhizomatic archive is one that you work to construct as you draw multiple and even contradictory meanings out of each new multidirectional encounter with the material. At the root of this alternative approach to composing is my desire to stimulate critical reflection on our habitual desire for a precomposed sense of meaning and to provoke a gentle struggle between your sense of agency and its limitations.


The Olive Project also operates within a broad framework of highly-sensorial multimodality. I intend the overall visual concept—textured floral wallpaper hung with picture frames and white-bordered images reminiscent of Instamatic photos—to work together with the visceral experience of voice to both evoke and elude a desire to enter into conversation with my grandma's memories in the intimate space of a private living room. These design choices function to place you in a similar position to the one that I inhabited at the outset of the project, in which I gathered together diffuse bits and pieces of my grandma's memories and tried, sometimes unsuccessfully, to draw meaning out of the spaces between them. This project is constructed to offer you a highly affective experience of immediacy and material presence. I would like to push you beyond the search for simple "meaning" and encourage you toward a challenging and even disorienting encounter with the non-discursive and nonrational.