Breathing Lessons (2006) poetically traces a longing for oxygen through the artist’s family history. It draws a thread through a series of life experiences that relied on the restorative powers of respiration, both physically and emotionally. Set in an indeterminate time past, it is lyrical and rhythmic, humorous and tragic, piercing and elegiac. The alternating moods are amplified by the juxtaposition of text and action, image and music, editing pulse and location sound effects. These relationships find their focus as the piece explores the role of ‘signifying actions’ in transforming a personal narrative. The performer’s improvisational physical responses were stimulated by sculptural contraptions, costume construction and storyline, as well as the post-industrial location. Although the project began with the creation of these stimuli by Claudia Esslinger, the collaborative responses of Leslie Seiters as performer and the camerawork of Ron Estes were essential to its completion.