Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Featuring: INVERSES

Today we are thrilled to share an interview with Joanne Lam, the writer, co-creator and producer of INVERSES, a multi-sensory project based on the journey of a roving cardboard box. Explore INVERSES here, and read more about how it came to be below!

LAIP:  Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work. 

Joanne: Hi!  I am an aspiring polymath operating within the realms of writing, music, and sound. 80% of what I do is self taught.


LAIP: Tell us about the INVERSES project- how it came together, what the process was like, etc.

Joanne: INVERSES began in April 2013 when Kyu (co-creator and illustrator) and I decided to collaborate on an illustrated storybook. As we began brainstorming, however, we felt the urge to develop the book into a bigger project that involves yet extends beyond the limitations of print media. That’s when we recruited Lindsay (singer-songwriter) and Robin (sound designer) to our team. Lindsay’s music is a study on the inner thoughts and feelings of our character, while Robin’s soundscapes explore the transitory spaces through which our character moves.

INVERSES became a multi-sensory endeavour when Jacqueline (perfumer) came on board. Scent is potent in its ability to hint at past experiences as well as their associated emotions. With this in mind, we developed three fragrances entitled Change of Mind, Change of Heart, and Heart of Hearts; each corresponds to a specific scene (or memory, whether real or imagined) from our character’s journey. Nazara (graphic designer) joined us towards the end of the creative ideation phase, just before we went into production. Her work was crucial to the overall look of INVERSES since we needed to communicate, package, and ‘brand’ our project in a cohesive visual manner.



scent description draft

LAIP: How have libraries informed your creative work?  Specifically, what role did the library play in this piece? 

Joanne: I did a lot of research by watching a bunch of films and reading a wide assortment of texts – poetry, philosophy, short stories, essays, children’s books – prior to writing the story. On the one hand I needed to get a feel for what’s already out there, and on the other hand I wanted my writing to be well informed. Naturally, libraries were an ideal place to start. I then compiled a Dropbox folder of pertinent quotes, film stills, and other media files to use as reference materials. This folder was shared among all collaborators and served to inform our work throughout the course of the project:

it’s our very own digital library/incubator!

LAIP: As an artist, what would your ideal library be like?  What kinds of stuff would you be able to check out, and what could you do there?

Joanne: My ideal library would host an extensive collection of books by independent publishers from around the world. There would also be a section where translated works are placed directly next to their original language counterparts. As for things to do… how about a program designed to help people discover books that they never set out to find or read in the first place? Why not make it a cultural event where people can meet and socialize in a casual context?

LAIP: Anything else you’d like to share?


  • Fun fact #1: One section in our book is printed entirely on translucent paper.
  • Fun fact #2: We didn’t know how the translucent paper section would turn out until we received the completed books from our printer.
  • Fun fact #3: Most of us have never met each other before, let alone in person.
  • Fun fact #4: Our character does not have a name or gender.


Joanne is the writer, co-creator and producer of INVERSES, a multi-sensory project based on the journey of a roving cardboard box. She graduated from McGill University’s Cultural Studies program in 2011 and is the founder of Bisso, a music design studio for weddings and private events. She is currently based in Canada.

from Library as Incubator Project

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