An Interactive Biography

Rachel Ward, 6 min., 2015





Producer & Filmmaker

Rachel Ward 

Technical Director

Carey Dodge


Original soundtrack 

Shannon Carruthers


With special thanks to:

Reese Muntean, Robert Davidson Studio, 

Bonerattle Music, Philippe Pasquier, 

Thecla Schiphorst


Trailer for my interactive ethnographic art installation:


UKULELE is an interactive sensory biography about the life cycle of one instrument, the ukulele. It is an exercise in non-linear, interactive narrative in which the story of the ukuele’s life is revealed by physically playing the instrument (such as kinship with its owner and eventual abandonment). By plucking the strings, it generates sensory visual memories — from the point of view of the instrument — where each note corresponds to one stage of the ukulele’s life cycle:


I. Conception (instrument construction/woodworking) [G string]

II. Birth (the purchase) [C string]

III. Life (with the owner/music) [E string]

IV. Senescence (shots of decaying wood/being abandoned at the house) [A string]


By focusing on themes of inanimate kinship, transpersonal narrative and embodiment, this interactive story conveys a visual non-human biography as based on “imagination” and “memory” (Pink 2009) and explore the potential of interactive digital narrative as a new tool in ethnographic research.


The 60+ videos and original soundtrack were recorded specifically for this piece.





I wrote about this project in a book chapter that was recently published in Digital Echoes: Spaces for Intangible and Performance-Based Cultural Heritage. This video provides an overview of the softwares and technical processes used in its creation.