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Capturing Memories (and People) with Visualization

I am constantly blown away by advances in visual technology and what they inspire people to create.

Gabriel Barcia-Colombo’s so-called “collection of human beings” is one such example. In an effort to preserve memory, Barcia-Colombo uses video to create the illusion of miniature people — particularly his friends — encased in ordinary objects, such as jam jars. Proximity sensors make them interactive so that when someone approaches the installation, the jarred people actually react. “You know, just like people on the street when you get too close to them,” he said. “Some people react in terror.  Others react [by] asking you for help, and some people hide from you.”

It may sound a bit strange at first, but Barcia-Colombo’s work focuses on something our society is becoming increasing interested in: digital memorialization.

“While formally implemented by natural history museums and collections…this process has grown more pointed and pervasive in the modern-day obsession with personal digital archiving and the corresponding growth of social media culture,” he explained. “My video sculptures play upon this exigency in our culture to chronicle, preserve and wax nostalgic, an idea which I render visually…”

Barcia-Colombo’s work calls to mind a quote I’ve been using a lot lately in my writing (Happy Friday Fun Links plug), and it comes from Marc Davis, partner architect at Microsoft: “The great opportunity and challenge of our time is what it means to have a digital society and a digital economy. What does it mean to be a person, to have data, to create property, to create groups, to work and play and love and live in a world where the Web and people are connected all the time? That is the world we’re creating…and we have real decisions to make about what that world’s going to be like.”

As we continue to wrestle this big idea by searching for meaning in the web’s data detritus, I think we’ll see more and more people step outside of the traditional in favor of creative and visually-impactful approaches. And that will mean big things for the way we operate in any and all settings. Have you any to add to the pot? Drop them in the comments below.

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