Words We Never Wrote

Written by Tom Abba & Alyssia White
Music: Sarah Anderson & Duncan Speakman
Technical infrastructure: Josh Connor

Presented for the first time at the Hay Festival, Words We Never Wrote explores the meaning of writing, language and storytelling.

We all, at a fundamental level, consist of words. As we change, as our lives change us, words become dislodged; my story becomes a part of yours. There are some words though, that remain lost, waiting in the cracks of floorboards, ricocheting off people in busy crowds. As they are lost from one story, they wish to become part of another . . .

Somewhere close to you lie fragments of that story. Scattered words offer glimpses of a narrative etched into the air itself. For the last eighty years, a book that was never read has been trying to find a way back into the world. This is where stories begin, where a story is trying to be told. It wants you to help write it.

Words We Never Wrote is an Ambient Literature work commissioned by the Hay Festival 2018. It addresses the meaning of language and the role of fiction in an increasingly fragmented world. It wears its heart on its sleeve, and owes a debt to Borges, Calvino, Ocampo and especially the writings of Bruno Schulz.


Words We Never Wrote will be installed in Arnolfini’s Front Room from June 8th – 9th. The work is presented within UWE Bristol’s Degree Show, and will open at 5pm on the 8th. See Arnolfini’s website for opening hours.

All you need is a modern smartphone (running Android 4.3+ or iOS 6+) and some headphones. We’ll have some if you can’t lay your hands on a pair.

The work lasts approximately twenty minutes, and takes place indoors.

Download from the following:
iOS Store
Googleplay store


Tom Abba is a writer and artist whose practice addresses the form and content of digital and physical books, and hybrid forms of the two. He is Associate Professor of Art & Design at UWE Bristol, and hates choose-your-own-adventures.

Alyssia White is a writer and artist whose interdisciplinary practice sits between craft, design and installation, incorporating text, books, film, assemblage and found objects. Her fundamental interest is the liminal space between fiction and reality.

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