The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the incredible power of communication technologies to keep us informed, connected, and socially engaged during long periods of social isolation. The same technologies have inherent tendencies to increase our sense of alienation as we “consume” content, flip through screens and disengage from social interactions, obligations and projects the more we focus on our devices as transmission media.

Together While We Are Apart is a Do-it-together installation, composition and game that gently demands that we move outside, physically distance ourselves from one another yet collaborate on a week-long musical and ambient sound project. Using 24 QR codes located throughout the city of Saint John participants will engage in a participatory, asynchronous performance and composition of a community-based audio artifact using audio recorded from the Saint John environment, processed and played on the participant’s cell phone. As other participants trigger sonic events in other locations participants can change the audio triggers on their devices to listen “together” in an online process of composition and performance.


Dann Downes is a Communications Professor at UNBSJ. He teaches media theory, DIY Media, popular music and Intellectual Property. He is also a Saint John musician whose latest project is the Morticia Project (2017, new record 2020). 

Dann has published on intellectual property and the role of media in the construction of community and personal identity. His work places mediation in its social, political and historic contexts by exploring the practical and theoretical relationships between amateur, professional and academic participants in the DIY/DIT communities and the ways that home-made musical devices lead (and don’t lead) to cultural and commercial ends. 

His “Ambiguous Devices” make music from hand -made electronic devices – old toys and simple circuits to make amplifiers, noise generators and a joyful racket. Dann started building ambiguous devices in 2013 as an experiment and now shares projects through courses and workshops from Saint John to Amsterdam. 

Coming soon! Check back on August 21, 2020.