“Sometimes an analog form of communication is the best way to connect with someone.” —juror Harold Jones
“This project exhibits the best outcome of any technology: facilitating emotional human connections. Connecting people through stories and memories reminds us all of what we have in common. That alone makes this work important as an aspirational reference point for the entire industry.” —juror Nathan Moody
Overview: Getting people to share intimate memories is no easy task. Despite this, the installation Mnemograph, by Rebecca Lieberman, manages to do just that by connecting two people via a writing desk—but no ordinary one. Embedded with networked hardware—scanner, printer and custom software—the digital-and-analog contraption invites participants to anonymously respond to a prompt by writing down a personal memory. After submitting their papers through a slot in the desk, participants then receive back a print of a similar memory. Whether it’s written by a stranger or a friend is unknown—the important factor is the common language of memory.
•Lieberman wanted to design the interaction as both an invitation to participate and a rewarding experience.
•An anonymous site displayed a collection of submitted memories.
•The project took four months to complete.
Comments by Rebecca Lieberman:
How did time constraints affect your final solution? “Despite lots of user testing, the timeline meant that I settled on the first form that made sense to me: a desk. If I’d had more time, I would have explored others—perhaps something evoking a voting booth, a wall or prayer shrine, or something small and modular that could be put in public spaces.”
What was the response? “Early on, I realized this project would only be as strong as people’s contributions; it is a living, breathing installation that changes with the addition of each new memory. The response in multiple contexts has been positive—people enjoy the experience of sharing and getting something back, and they also contribute intimate memories. Some contributions are really funny. Some are mundane, but there is beauty in that, too.”