My Secret Heart - Excerpts

by Memo Akten

My Secret Heart is a music and film installation & performance commissioned by Streetwise Opera with music composed by Mira Calix and sound design by David Sheppard. Working with video artists Flat-e, we created a film to accompany the 48 minute performance, as well as versions for an installation and short film.

Streetwise Opera are a charity who use music as a tool to help people who have experienced homelessness move forward in their lives. They run a weekly music programme, resident in 10 homeless centres around the country - and also stage an annual production which gives their performers the chance to star in quality shows where there are high-expectations, no compromise and no patronising. The voices you hear in the music, and people you see in the film, are from Streetwise workshops around the UK. 100+ Streetwise performers also sang at the My Secret Heart premiere at the Royal Festival Hall in December 2008. My Secret Heart is about their story.

The film has an abstract narrative derived from individual conversations with each of the Streetwise performers. It is a direct emotional response to their stories combined with the haunting beauty of Mira Calix's composition. Instead of focusing on a specific plot, the film embarks on a complex journey through various states of emotion, starting from pre-birth through birth, curiosity, exploration, excitement, playfulness; through to fear, anxiety and isolation. While it maintains a relatively dark and eerie mood overall, intertwined with the feelings of desperation are strong elements of hope.

The visuals were created primarily with custom software written with C++/openFrameworks, with some Quartz Composer elements, rendered AfterEffects sequences and live action footage. The custom C++ app is audio-reactive and user-interactive, allowing the visuals to be 'performed' live with full control over the behaviour of the virtual inhabitants of the cylindrical aquarium-like rig.

Tour information can be followed from​mysecretheartuk

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