Mourning Ritual & Digital Ground

Celia Olsen and Elyssa Bakker (A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning), Jenna Moon (School of Music, Theatre & Dance)

Our project uses a hybrid of real-time performance and AR experience to create a new ritual memorializing the lives lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In our proposed work, socially distanced participants move through a series of six augmented reality portals, while a carillon plays live. Each portal is meant to evoke different feelings that could be experienced while grieving. The worlds shown in the portals through the immersive experience is furthered by the use of google cardboard. Participants experience portals in whatever order they would like, focusing on whichever portals resonate with them the most. Our project works to create a productive grieving environment using the theory of mediated relations as outlined by Molly Hale in her essay “Animating Relations: Digitally Mediated Intimacies between the Living and the Dead.” In the essay Hale describes how practices similar to role-playing can help people process their grief. In that work Hale hypothesizes that “animation highlights the variability and multiplicity of the dead, the partiality of their representations, and the way that these partial representations cohere as a database of elements rather than a singular narrative of the lives or personalities of the dead” (Hale, 207). In our project we create multiple scenarios in which people can enact their grief. Creating a responsive new ritual for the digital age.