Preserved Memories

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition


McKeown identified the urgent need to formulate questions on death and remembrance in the hyper-digital age. The resulting research, in the form of an artwork entitled Preserved Memories, expanded on Steinhart (2014) to suggest that in the future individuals will digitally live on after their deaths as intelligent 3D forms.

McKeown developed new knowledge to create public dialogue highlighting the exponential simplification and mechanisation of creative technologies capable of producing life-like emotional virtual avatars. Employing expertise in digital technology this research advances knowledge on the collaboration and collision of technologies to affect a new research paradigm of memory and death. It builds on a body of creative research by artists including Eric Fischer (data), Cirio and Ludovico (data) and Douglas Gordon (memory), along with engineers to raise complex ethical issues around technology and embodiment (More and Vita-More, 2013; Kurzweil, 1998; Hovagimyan, 2001) 2001).  Preserved Memories was informed by research into collective and digital memory (false, distorted, reused) (Halbwachs, 1992 [1925]; Goodman, 2010). Other critical concepts included studies of social media (Golbeck et al., 2011), Big Data (Andrejevic, 2014).

From this, a viable futuristic model of global processes was identified, around the individual vs virtual death, and notions of virtual family and friends impacting on ‘memory production’, in a process in which people never digitally die. This develops fields of analysis in multiple disciplines and discourses, including the ownership and control of memory and the benefits, consequences and cultural specificities of its use.

McKeown’s research resulted in a commissioned artwork, taking the form of a 4m x 3m computer game console advert, for the exhibition at DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, Prague, where it was seen by a paying audience of 26,000 people. Testimony to its significance, the work sparked international media engagement with the research. 
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sept 2015


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