Plinths for remembering

A series of plinths consider the role of memorabilia in triggering personal memories and how interactions with them might be enhanced to offer new ways of exploring the past.  The plinths have different characteristics and address different issues around memorabilia to convey the proposals in specific settings.  They explore currently unsupported forms of reminiscing identified during interviews and include support for inherited objects, authenticating memories, collecting content to trigger memories and addressing the lack of available store space for memorabilia.

Plinths are used as they offer a vehicle to highlight user behaviour and are not integral to the proposals themselves.  They offer benefits by keeping the content local and contained within each (and not with the object), so memorabilia can continue in it’s natural surroundings and state.

The concepts consider how people’s experiences of memories associated with objects can be extended and altered beyond systems and practices currently available, and to spark debate of what might happen if such systems were in place.

patina1Patina Plinth

Designed specifically for inherited objects, Patina plinth retells associated memories in the form of pre-stored stories once the new owner has lived with them for the same time as the previous owner.  This ageing of the memory along with the object allows the object to mature, building a patina and establishing greater appreciation of the objects past with the new owner.

The plinth stores content with a time-stamp in relation to the object’s age, displaying a precise countdown to the next storytelling episode.  The proposal supports passing on memories with objects when they change ownership, offering understanding around the marks, scratches and chips object’s receive and taking away some of the secrecy around second-hand objects.  The plinth encourages other forms of interaction: imagine lining up objects in order of the next story due and the anticipation around awaiting the next chronicle in an objects unravelling history.


anniversaryAnniversary Plinth

This proposal authenticates memories by printing out factual information on specific dates memorable to the object.  The plinth offers prompts to an object’s history, for example, a picture of a child resulting in the plinth printing out a birthday wish.

The content for Anniversary Plinth may be collected by people sending messages to the plinth or by linking to other date-stored media like calendars.  On the plinth there is no indication to when information is printed, but it happens in real-time on the dates associated with the stored content.  This plinth generates information frequently compared to proposals like Patina Plinth, as printed information may relate to dates repeated annually, such as birthdays or anniversaries.

This plinth could also be used as an output for messages sent between people: relationships between people who share memories of the objects, intensified by sending messages to each other through the plinth, like a message from Grandma asking the child to call her as they haven’t spoken for a while.  In terms of reminiscing, the plinth provides a space to share memories and thoughts that are less confrontational than a conversation between people, where a print-out can be acted upon or ignored.  At the very least the plinth may trigger a memory, but it may go further to initiate additional communication.


inheritance bidInheritance Bid Plinth

This plinth encourages potential inheritors to bid for an object’s affections by leaving their requests and wishes to own the object in the future.  On the surface, this makes the will making process easier as the plinth replays the recordings for the owner to hear and decide, but critically, this concept questions current methods of distributing objects when owners die.

The plinth is inspired by the way precious objects are described and left to people in wills, for example, “My favourite hand-carved solid wood wardrobe, painstakingly bought back from India, foes to my beloved grandson who always admired it”, and stories from bereaved family members discussing who should inherit when validating claims through emotionally charges storytelling of what it means to them.  Bidding to own an object once the owner has died is uneasy through responses from people this concept was discussed with show appreciating for a system that delivers a practical service during a distressing time.

Reading the will could become a theatrical event with objects handed over to whoever gave the best performance.  Such a system could cause people to take on a greedy behaviour when visiting elderly relatives, or simply encourage them to visit more, offering chance to leave a claim.


truthTruth Plinth

The Truth plinth hooks the storyteller up to a lie detector, giving the audience indication as to whether what they are hearing is true or not.  People often exaggerate stories, so the plinth ensures truthfulness by the storyteller: if they lie they receive an electric shock.  The outcome should ensure factual, not fictional, stories.

Critics may believe the Truth plinth would make stories less compelling, as people often exaggerate storytelling to enliven or clarify explanation.  Elements of exaggeration may be found in most stories told, where true authenticity becomes less important than the elaboration told around it, which ensure it is compelling to the audience.  In this sense, I question whether a truth plinth would make a story better or worse as people are smart enough to accept exaggeration by rationalising what is presented.


hhrc showPlinths for Remembering were form-prototyped and exhibited at the Royal College of Art HHRC Research Associates show.

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