The project Ghost Letter engages with the mental asylum of San Servolo, an Island in the Venetian Lagoon. Use of the island as a mental asylum began in 1725 and it was reserved only for the rich inhabitants of Venice who could afford treatment in a facility. This is the third in a series of projects using augmented listening with a custom made Sonic AR headset, exploring the expressive potential of a layering of geo-referenced soundscapes with the actual sound existing in the moment of walking at the location.
The duality between correct, orderly walking that corresponds to the norm, and the suspect, unruly act that does not, is what we are interested in in our second project, Ghost Letter. The small island of San Servolo has beautiful landscaping with winding graveled pathways across the island and the duality of walking on the path and deviating from it is easily choreographed. Being there today, we can imagine how the patients may have wandered across the island, kept from leaving the facility by the fact that it is an island, with only one pier and a boat leaving from the main building of the mental institution.