Contemporary attempts to commemorate and memorialize war are fundamentally unsuccessful at illustrating the concept and reality of war, for they are pre-rehearsed and formulaic. Memorials simply elicit emotional responses from captive audiences and fail to change present-day and future awareness and recognition and understanding of war.
Staging Memory does not commemorate war. Instead, this project attempts to change how people understand World War Two by combining the analysis and visualization of data with technological innovation and substantial public intervention. This project supports and guides present-day public interaction and dialog with World War Two by providing the tools necessary to reflect, engage, and conduct discourse with the past thoughtfully and responsibly.
Staging Memory facilitates the interaction between the past and the present by collecting and analyzing multiple data sets from both World War Two and today. The “old” data set is exclusively about World War Two and represents the 100 million people who were killed or murdered during World War Two. This data set will be complex, but it is static and unchanging. The “new” data set comes from today and from the present; it is unknown, constantly changing and evolving, unpredictable, and infinitely flexible.
Staging Memory will develop a technological asset in order to foster contemporary, asynchronous public engagement with World War Two. This project will build an international team of technologists and engineers who will work collaboratively in-person and online to build a product that will empower individuals to access and interface with the bitter and somber history of World War Two. This project will employ artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies to bring the past into dialog and conversation with the present.
Staging Memory furthers the analysis of data and technological development with both small and large scale visualizations of its data sets and showcases of the development of its technological asset. On the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two, this project will attempt to conduct a large-scale interactive visual projection in the vicinity of the United Nations building in New York City. Leading up to the 75th anniversary, smaller public interventions will allow more limited audiences and focus groups to interact with these visualizations. These visualizations will engage individuals both online on the Internet and in public.
4. PUBLIC ACTION
In its mixing of data analysis, technological development, and data visualization, Staging Memory allows people in the first person to engage with the people killed and murdered during World War Two. Unlike a traditional memorial, or even a "counter"-memorial, this project requires and demands the almost hyper-active engagement of both small and large groups of people. In this project, passive observers become dynamic participants. The power and gravity of this project lies in its members, actors, and performers.