Jonathan Henderson's (PhD 2021) "Anechoia Memoriam" is a unique memorial to lost lives of color

A closeup view of the Selectric typewriter used in the installation Anechoia Memoriam
Anechoia Memoriam typewriter setup

Anechoia Memoriam is a participatory installation for the Selectric Piano, an IBM Selectric typewriter that electromechanically controls an acoustic piano. The score for the piece is composed of a list of 180 unarmed people of color killed by law enforcement in the United States. The score unfolds over seven hours, whether anyone engages with it or not. When typists participate, each letter typed is enunciated by specific notes on the piano. If no one types, the score scrolls by, accumulating on the floor in silence. Participation and non-participation, attention and inattention, ringing piano strings and silence are all elements of the performance.

View a short video demonstrating Anechoia Memoriam.

About Anechoia Memoriam, Henderson writes:

"The scenario of the performance allows for the list to pass by unnoticed. When typists participate, the names become music.... The presence or absence of a typist renders the composition indeterminate. The piece will transpire in part, or even largely, in silence."

Anechoia Memoriam with participant

"John Cage transformed our notion of silence from an absence to a presence. For Cage, part of what we call silence is simply inattention. Or perhaps we notice a sound but deem it unimportant: silence as judgement. Can Cage’s capacious notion of silence be useful in approaching political silences?  The growing mainstream awareness of state violence towards people of color is, in part, a reckoning with silence. As 'say their names' becomes a refrain of the Black Lives Matter movement, is a silence breaking? Anechoia Memoriam invites participants and observers both into and out of that silence.... We hope the play of sound, memorialization and listening invites embodied reflection on the politics of silence and the realities of state violence against communities of color."

Jonathan Henderson is Professor of Music at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. Find out more about him and his work at

Mark Dixon is an Associate Professor of Art at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. Find out more about him and his work at