Remembering What is Lost: Digital Immersion for Memory and Commemoration

Posted on 18.09.2021 - 08:21 by Helen Newall

This project involved two miniature installations: Remember Me (RM), for an audience-of-one, Lost Morecambe (LM), for an audience-of-four. Both comprised a suitcase (RM), or trunk (LM) containing dioramas (RM, a WW1 trench; LM, a theatre auditorium) and small screens onto which pico-projectors projected short animations of vintage photography (RM, 11 minutes; LM, 8 minutes). Soundtracks, delivered by headphones, created an immersive experience. LM was commissioned by Morecambe Variety Festival and funded by ACE.

The project investigated identity, memory, and commemoration, and defamiliarised and interrogated photographs as sites of memory, documentation, and stillness: in RM, soldiers’ identities are lost; they are a new kind of Missing. WW1 photographs change from sentimentally valuable items depicting known subjects, to collectible and valuable objects of unknown subjects: by animating them with a brief uncanny re-existence, RM sought to reverse this and re-subjectify soldiers. In LM, the dilapidated Winter Gardens hosting the installation were depicted in miniature in their heyday, creating an uncanny postmodern mise-en-abyme effect noted by many visitors. Audiences for both works commented on how transported to other worlds they were in short spaces of time.

The project:

· investigated performative experience reinvesting objects with new significance and memory;

· explored shifts between ‘object-ness’ and ‘subject-ness’;

· interrogated hitherto unknown photographs as repositories of potential sensation and memory.

In addition, RM investigated:

· how those without identity might be remembered emotionally by those without direct memory of them; and commemoration.

LM investigated:

· performative experience changing experiences of site; and nostalgia.

RM exhibited: Chester Military Museum; Narberth Museum; Ansdell Library, Lythm St Anne’s; Bluecoat, Liverpool; TaPRA, Salford; University of Chester; (where conference papers were also delivered). LM exhibited: Morecambe Winter Gardens; Pound Arts, Corsham. A keynote address about RM was delivered at the Narrative Conference, Chester (2017). A chapter in Pinchbeck and Westerside (2018) constitutes complementary writing.


Newall, Helen (2021): Remembering What is Lost: Digital Immersion for Memory and Commemoration. Edge Hill University. Collection.
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Arts Council England


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