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When we speak at the same time we speak the same language is a performance, an installation and a video about exciting conversation, a wave, momentum and the slippery present. Using linguist Deborah Tannen’s term “cooperative overlapping” as a starting point, When we speak aims to capture the feeling of participating in the type high-involvement intoxicating conversation that wraps participants up and buoys them in a shared present. “Cooperative overlapping” is a culturally specific speech phenomenon that entails conversation participants speaking over each other to show excitement and interest. From the outside, a conversation rife with overlaps may seem chaotic, frenzied and even rude. From the inside, however, one feels energized by the shared conversational momentum and more closely connected to those with whom they speak. The work takes the stance that these conversations can suspend time, creating a mutual now in a place of easy reaction. Through the convergence of performance, sculpture, video and text we’re asking: What happens when we give into the flow of these moments? What happens when we are torn away? How do we express ourselves when we are secure in the knowledge that we’ll be understood?

The video and performance are two separate artworks that follow a similar progression.

Performerance artists are Megan Arnold, Aashay Dalvi and Tess Martens. Music by Alex Massa and Strange Winds with a cameo by Jonah Prousky (written by Brian Prousky) and remixed by me. Lip video by Ariana Molly. Nature video by Maria Simmons. Costumes by Mackenzie Belfour. Sewing help from Brenda Reid. Videography by David Botros. Editing help from Jordyn Stewart

This project was created with Inter Arts Matrix as part of the COVE/COVOX incubator, funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Canada Council for the Arts.

The Video:

The Performance: 

Performance photography by Tyler Matheson

The Other Stuff: 


Zine cover and chatbot background by Paula McLean 

Get a copy here. 

Three people enter a room. Not all at once mind you, but in a way swollen and buzzing with potential where the difference between absence and presence is negligible. In other words, three people enter a room and all three people have not yet entered a room. In other words, a specter of entering and exiting attaches itself to some of the air molecules and the environment adjusts accordingly.

A word reverberates and hangs loosely
for just a second of rest until
it slings back with an inhale
and tumbles forth
it jiggles on the floor beneath them
on its back it rocks
immobile in one way, zipping through time space
and bodies in another.
rocking and sound-making
like atoms bumping up against whales
plumbed for their positive attitudes and negative outlooks on
what can bump and what should maybe grind.
The sound we made was like that, with extra plinks and
pauses, pregnant with marbles and dried beans.

A word reverberates and hangs loosely
scared to grip too tight in case
another word needs to hang
in fact, it does
and fast
a screen flashes on to reveal
how words might hang together
an outline of a person shows how you pick up one to attach it to the next
and so on
it smiles

Someone is no longer center stage

The best words bounce around
the point
without obscuring it. Like clouds when it’s sunny
and you know its sunny
they have no absolute order but rather an implied structural energy like
“belonging to the emperor, embalmed, tame, sucking pigs, sirens, fabulous, stray dogs and included in the present classification, frenzied—”
And then you chop all that up like an onion
And maybe cry
“-innumerable, drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, et cetera, having just broken the water pitcher, and the most obvious, from a long way off look like flies.”
get real blurry so you can see what’s in the distance
and yell about how you think the things you think.
Someone will slurp it up eventually.

One of the blogs said we need less oxygen not more
a quality over quantity thing, you know
something I’ve never been very good at
quantity is quality if all you want is more

Someone slurps it up.

We’re shallow like our breaths.
These business fundamentals always seemed loose.
Like beads on a string and then you’ve run out beads.
That quality/quantity thing again or a phatic release to ease tightening tension
in the room
knots slip slack from icy grips and
salt crystals wedge whatever makes us
stand in doorways singing
how are you im fine im doing well actually not great
but you know, these things come in threes

A word reverberates and hangs loosely and waits for a mate
well, several mates and they pile on and on and then
cacophony as we know it no longer exists. Its new meaning is the sounds of something that is productive, useful and shiny.
Unity is possible across time and space, contemporaneity is fluid and every moment contains dimensions and facets and they pile on and that all exists at once.
and the words are like hills and we run
flailing and free because the goal is clear
and suddenly every hill is the exact right height like a pile of warm laundry.
All words are mates and windows and charms on the edge of a chain
clinging and clanging and yes, I understand between the noise
an infinite string and infinite shapes and everything is hanging loosely and waiting
for the right lens to illuminate
how to be a mate.

Presence and absence remain interchangeable. It’s something to do with expectations. You expect three so there is three, somewhere. They all exist now, somewhere.

how are you
and I wait to hear the tender hiss of
less oxygen, doing more.

The present is nothing
until we nail it down
attach it to scaffolding that’s also a cell
inside and around
seeping in all directions is more of a procreation
than a failure to contain
you you you you you you you
is all that really matters in the present
I matter too but not in the same way
Just abstract thoughts in a blue room
Reverberating and hanging loosely dangling still
Nominative, genitive, elative
Conducive to
Bouncing from
Vessel to vessel
And yet filling both
No deficit and no limit
Expansiveness is flexibility pushed gently

To live in this now with you is to live in easy reaction
a word reverberates and hangs loosely and


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