The installation was told in seven parts. The first part was animating the outside of the building with images of the people from Reading, Pennsylvania. So we went around and took these beautiful portraits of the people, which we then projected through projection mapping onto the building. This idea came about because of a jumbotron. We thought about how when you go to a football game or you go to a basketball game, one of the things that people really love is for 15 seconds to see themselves blown up on the jumbotron. We thought, in Reading, Pennsylvania people who feel relatively invisible, how do you make them seen, is you blow their pictures up so that everybody can see them. So that was the first movement of the piece.
The second movement involved interviewing the elders in Reading, Pennsylvania and, “Talk about what was Reading like when you were young,” and we called that section “Reading Was,” which we then brought actors to retell those stories. The next movement was in – God, if I can remember!
The next movement was “Reading Behind Closed Doors.” One of the things we found is that the people in Reading didn’t really know each other that well, and we thought, “What if we bring people inside each other’s homes?” So we did interviews with various people inside their homes, which we then projected all over the walls. And then one of the most exciting movements that we had was working with young dancers in Reading, Pennsylvania to tell their stories through their bodies, which was very explosive and very exciting.
And then another movement was “Imagining Reading From Above.” So we wanted to do what we call “the beauty treatment of Reading” is to give people different perspectives of their city. So we flew drones all over the city so that people in Reading could see their city from a different perspective. And we ended the piece with interviews that we conducted at the very beginning of the piece, that we then used an algorithm while people were watching the show to weave all of these stories together.
At the very end we amplified these stories on these screens so that they felt like they were one continuous story even though they were told by 10, 15 people. So the whole idea was, by the end of the piece, to show that despite race, class, that everyone shared one narrative. And the algorithm was really exciting, very complicated to build, but in the end it worked quite well, and I think that that’s the thing that the people who came to see the show responded to most.