Saints of Paradox – Tatiana Tavares + Maree Sheehan

BEST Awards 2022 – Silver for Sound Design and composition

Saints of Paradox explores how narration in a picture book can be expanded through the use of Augmented Reality (AR) technology. The story concerns a woman who after 40 years of mourning at the loss of her lover in the 1964 Brazilian coup d’état, lives in a room of accumulated memories. One day when the only photograph of her lover breaks, it sets in train a series of strange events.

Sound plays a significant role in the work, both as an establisher of atmosphere and as a device for drawing our attention to story events. Soundscapes operate as instant identifiers of narration as they remind us who is telling the story. The sound was designed to provide texture, timbre, heighten the emotional impact and punctuation of movement. While each spread might be seen as an individual visualisation, the soundscape needed to create a sense of consistency and flow across the whole book. Paradoxically, it also establishes an instant aural demarcation between each of the saints. These demarcations are established on the first page and then play out consistently, with each saint recycling certain thematic sonic features.

All three variations of sounds have a delineated sense of religiosity, but the Father of Orthodoxy’s soundscapes are darker and more ominous with overtones of judgment and ecclesiasticism. Here we hear the toll of bells, dark choirs, mystical music, the flicker of burning candles, and the threatening peal of thunder. The Father of Pragmatism is accompanied by the mechanical sounds of ticking clocks, banging metals, revolutionary speeches, and gunshots. In contrast, the Mother of Benevolence carries with her memories of childhood, gentle angelic melodies, singing birds, and romantic treatments of the Samba and other nostalgic music. After selecting a saint to narrate a page, a thematically coherent soundscape immediately became discernible. Sound will normally play for a few orienting moments before the saint begins speaking. Normally each segment plays in the background, but it lifts in intensity in relation to the dramatic plot point of the episode. It then falls away to a more contemplative level that invites us to consider details in the image after the monologue has finished.

  • Creative DirectorsMaree Sheehan, Tatiana Tavares

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