Time Creatures: Design Future Heritage

Memory Matrix: Erasing the Past

Anderson Abigail

The Memory Matrix is growing into a beautiful project that will bring together people through their mutual appreciation of lost cultural heritage.  This week’s discussion about the Memory Matrix moving forward raised many important points.

One major topic that we discussed is the sale of the “necklaces” made out of the centers of the tiles.  I agree that it’s going to be hard to market them as necklaces, as most people don’t wear neon jewelry, but perhaps they would sell as keychains.  I also think that it is a good idea to only take donations, with a “suggested donation” of $5.  In this case, I believe that people will support the cause more for its own sake than for the keychain that they get out of it.  This neon trinket is, however, a good way for people to tie their purchase to its significance and be reminded of the entire concept of the Memory Matrix.

I agree with the direction in which we’re going with regards to numbering the tiles.  It seems simplest to number each tile and then have them correspond with blurbs on the website.  The concept of using QR codes never seemed effective to me, but that may be just a personal preference: I think I’ve only ever scanned a QR code once, since I never know beforehand whether it’ll be worth my time.  It would also still be good to have some sort of a matrix on the website, so viewers can find tiles that intrigued them, even without remembering their numbers. 


Here is the shortened version of the description of my tile for the website:

“During the 2008 summer Olympics, the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing, China, became a world-renowned symbol of extravagance and moving forward.  But in the years preceding the month-long ceremonies, many memories were lost.

Hundreds of thousands of families were evicted from their homes to make way for the Olympic stadiums.  Historic neighborhoods called hutongs were destroyed.  China’s leaders successfully converted centuries-old neighborhoods into a state-of-the art complex that would showcase China’s power on the world stage without revealing its beautiful, though perhaps antiquated, cultural heritage. 

Today, the stadium stands as a memorial to the unifier that is the world Olympics; but at the same time, it is filled with many ghosts: the ghosts of the athletes whose lifelong dreams were fulfilled or crushed in that space, as well as of the thousands of families who lost a vital piece of their past when they were forced to leave.  As plans for the 2022 Beijing winter Olympics develop, new memories will be created and the absence of old ones will be felt even more.”






Amazon Deforestation Pixel

Baily Zuniga
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During our discussion last week, we decided to make realistic outlines of the cultural artifacts or buildings that were destroyed. I believe it is necessary to use the tree as my pixel symbol. I considered drawing an animal or indigenous tribe that had already gone extinct; however, the images seemed to be too specific to represent the entire Amazon. Forests are synonymous with trees, and the Amazon alone holds thousands of unique species of trees. Scientists have said that more than half of the tree species in the Amazon face extinction in the coming decades as a result of past deforestation. The trees are what tie everything else in the forest together: other plants, animals, and people. They are resources in themselves (logging) and take up vast amounts of space that is coveted by others (mining, oil, ranching). Ultimately, their destruction is what triggers the loss of the other flora and fauna that live in the region. 

I based the actual symbol off of a Brazil nut tree. These trees are illegal to cut down in Brazil, so they are often left standing alone in the midst of ruins. The imagery of a single, isolated tree reiterates the destruction of habitat and heritage in the Amazon.

Because the visual icons will be a literal representation of our chosen stories, the written pixels should offer a broader interpretation of the loss of cultural heritage. The phrase, “Indifference fuels destruction,” highlights the underlying component that allows for organized destruction such as deforestation. Greed is a major factor in the repurposing of rainforest land, but it is the majority’s lack of concern that allows others to destroy the land so recklessly. Detachment and apathy can allow evil actions to go on unnoticed. I hope that people who read the pixel will realize in that moment they can either choose to remain impervious to their surroundings or they can choose to embrace awareness and the magnitude of the Memory Matrix.

After our class discussions, I liked the idea of having text as well as a symbolic image to create a pair of pixels referring to the same loss of culture. I think this adds an extra level of interaction when there is a snippet of a larger story that can intrigue the viewer to explore the stories further.

I am considering two symbols for the Library at the University of Leuven, because one is probably too broad (the burning book symbol), while the other symbol may not immediately connect as the loss of knowledge as opposed to the architecture. However, the one with the building outline is site-specific, which is definitely an important theme to address. I decided to use the design of the building that exists today, since it was a replica of the building that existed between the World Wars and was destroyed. 

I wanted to keep the amount of text on the second pixel as minimal as possible, writing just enough words to make the viewer interested, but not too much to crowd the pixel. The text pixel is a part of a broader commentary on the loss of knowledge. Because of this, I am leaning towards a pairing of the building outline and the text pixel, because in this way, the two pixels together can complete the story of the burning of a library - not only is it the loss of architecture, but a loss of knowledge. I kept the font Arial, because it is a well known, legible, simple font, and doesn't distract from the message being communicated. 

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I like the idea of pairing imagery and text in a non-obvious manner to have two versions of the same story adding to the larger visual affect of the matrix. In class we talked about having a letter-number labeling system to classify the stories so that they can be easily identified on the website, as well as with each other, and so I included that on the bottom of my tiles.

For my design, I have two versions portraying the Machhendranath Temple. One is simply the outline of the temple, so that the absence of material on the tile mirrors the idea of a lost artifact. The other is slightly enlarged and cropped with more details of the building, so that someone can see the various towers and pillars. The first one is more like what we talked about with the idea of the cut-out piece being something separate that is then sold as a charm. However, if for some reason we do not go in that direction, I think there is opportunity for us to go further in the use of composition and negative space.

For my text, I like the idea of the accompanying text to be an excerpt from the personal stories, a phrase that captures the readers attention and entices them to go online and learn more about the context. Mine is an excerpt therefore from my own write-up from last week. Furthermore, there is no set font, but rather my own handwriting. The use of handwriting reinforces the personal, humanizing aspects of the stories. Handwritten phrases can be vectorized quite easily in illustrator in order to etch the statements onto the plastic tiles with a laser cutter.