Almost anything can trigger a powerful memory: a song; a scent; an old photograph.
San Francisco-based singer Olga Nunes decided she wanted to gather some of those memories from people she had never met. But how do you reach out to strangers and ask them to recount the intimate moments of their lives?
Well, Nunes had unique access to a huge pool of people.
She entered a lottery contest on The Listserve, an email list of over 20,000 people. The winner of the daily lottery gets the chance to send an email to everyone on the list.
Nunes won. And she decided to send out an email asking people to share an audio recording of their memories.
She included a number for a voicemail box where people could call and leave a message telling her the story of a memory brought about by a specific smell.
On her 'This Is A Memory' blog, she says the response from the people on the Listserve has been great: "Many of them called the number in the letter, leaving unexpected, beautiful, and often heart-breaking answers on my voicemail."
And she's still asking for memories. If you'd like to share yours, you can call the number listed on her blog.
Check out a few of the memories she's received so far:
David from Cambridge, Massachusetts talks about his grandmother's "Greek soup." She doesn't know how to make it any more because of Alzheimer's.
Chloe in London, England talked about smelling woodsmoke on an empty, frosty street.
Max from Montreal (by way of Toronto) talks about a song that takes him back to travelling on a train to see his (now ex-) girlfriend.
Mike from Arcola, Virginia talks about his memories of Israeli Music from 1974.
The audio is going to be a part of Nunes' album and conceptual art project LAMP, which she's been working on for the last two years.
It sounds like a pretty intricate project. She successfully funded the album on Kickstarter. Here's the video she made for the site explaining what the album is all about.