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Laetitia Sonami (Oakland) collaborating with Nick Bertoni and Tinker’s Workshop (Berkeley)

Award: $35,000 Performing Arts Grant awarded in 2000

Presented: September 2002, New Langton Arts

Composer and musician Laetitia Sonami collaborated with artist and inventor Nick Bertoni, the Tinker’s Workshop, and East Bay teenagers to create an interactive musical environment in which members of the public had the opportunity to interact with a variety of animated handbags.  At the “BAGS2002 exhibition at New Langton Arts, the pieces responded to viewers’ movements through the galleries, revealing humorous and provocative sounds and voices.

The bags came in many shapes and sizes–including grocery bags, handbags, golf bags, luggage, and briefcases. Along with abstract electronic sounds, rhythms, and processed natural sounds, the musical score incorporated recorded stories and sounds collected by youth, ages eight to 14, who participate in Tinker’s Workshop. Nick Bertoni collaborated as a sculptor, installation artist, and engineer, working closely with Sonami and the youth on the musical elements and animating the bags’ movements.

Since the late 1970s, performer and composer Laetitia Sonami has created and adapted analog and digital technology to interactive sound performances and sound installations. Her compositions combine text, music, and found sound.  She has presented her work throughout the world at such festivals and venues as Ars Electronica, Berlin Sonambienta, Kitchen Cybertronics Series, Amsterdam Museum of Modern Art, Chicago Art Institute, and many others.

Founded by Nick Bertoni in 1976, the Tinker’s Workshop seeks to foster a spirit of imaginative experimentation through collaboration and community outreach. Its facilities are equipped with tools and machines necessary for most types of fabrication and are staffed by a diverse group of creative people.