About the Project

Memory Makes Us is a live writing event that challenges writers to create a new work using as their inspiration collected memories from the general public.

The project seeks contributions from anyone both online and in person during each event in a unique interaction between artist and audience. Your memories can take the form of text, images, or video. Your submissions may be published to this web site and provided to the authors who may choose to incorporate your memories into their work in progress.

Since 2013, Memory Makes Us has taken place at events throughout Australia and the United States and has featured a diverse group of authors authors such as Kate Pullinger, Sean Williams, and Maxine Beneba Clarke.

From 2013 – 2014, if:book conducted the Memory Makes Us live writing event at Australian writers festivals in Brisbane, Darwin, Melbourne, and Perth and at the Decatur Book Festival in the USA.

Thirteen writers  participated, creating new work live, using as their inspiration the memories contributed by the audience.

The writing that emerged is beautiful, funny, sad, and surreal.

How Memory Makes Us works

Up to three authors sit before their computers in a public space and they write. Their work is fed to a large screen and simultaneously to the project web site, every keystroke visible to the world.

The audience, both online and in person can contribute to the writing in progress, by providing the authors with a memory. Memories flood in online direct to the web site and, in person, via the manual typewriters we provide at the venue.

As the number of collected memories grow through the day, they are attached to the author’s table, eventually reaching the floor and ‘flowing’ out towards the audience as a kind of visual flourish and as a marker of our progress.

An ephemeral book, in digital and print

Like memory itself, all work produced for Memory Makes Us is ephemeral. It will eventually vanish.

This web site provides a repository for contributed memories and for the authors’ work, but it will periodically enter ‘corrupt’ mode where the words and images begin to degrade digitally.

Creating a print edition of the project presented us with a challenge. Like all memories, the pieces that make up Memory Makes Us are ephemeral and must eventually fade away.

So, Memory Makes Us is published to newsprint.

The tabloid size of the book also provided us with a much larger canvas than the typical book so we asked designers Zoe Sadokierski, Gemma Warriner, and Alissa Dinallo to take a cue from the content and the process and create a book that makes full use of its space on the page and that reflects the fragmented nature of memory itself in surprising and playful ways.

Memory Makes Us won an Australian Book Design Award for best designed independent publication.


What remains of Memory Makes Us after its final event (whenever that might be) won’t be a web site or even a book. It will be a collection of memories.

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