Title: Coffin Chatter or Tombstone Talk
Artist: Daniel Incandela
Materials: Granite or marble, (2) 40″ weather proofed LCD/Plasma screens

This is not a statement on death. It’s a celebration of life. An idea came to me several years ago about creating a fictitious cast of characters that would perform in cemeteries on flat screen monitors installed into the ground – almost like a coffin. As time passed, this idea shifted into more personal connections. But throughout my thought process, this remained a celebration of life. It is not a statement, mockery or slight on dying, death or loss. Trust me. I know the pain and sadness that comes with that.

Original sketch for Coffin Chatter

I spend a lot of time in Crown Hill Cemetery. I visit my father’s tree once a week and I enjoy the peace and quiet that comes with thoughtful reflection. I think we’re supposed to be that way. Right? Or maybe not.

This is a new time. The digital era. The life we live in today allows anyone to be an author, creator and producer of memories. And these days, we’re talking digital memories – memories or quips or jokes or laughter or stories or performances or advice. Think about what we do with digital files.

I thought about some of my favorite people over time – Earnest Hemingway, Kurt Vonnegut, Steve McQueen, George Gershwin, Edie Sedgwick, Gandhi, Peter Sellers and lots more. I would visit their graves at the drop of a hat.

I would also jump at the chance of visiting an interactive grave – incorporating digital files from their life – music, comedy, writings, teachings, advice, quotes, video, historical information, and dialogue.

A family of talkers

It’s a cross between the moving images in the Harry Potter picture frames or newspapers and a traditional grave – all produced with thought, grace, respect and ideally, moments of laughter and tears.

A lonesome, interactive grave

When I consider digital strategies, I often think about the longevity of digital projects. The digital content we produce today via Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, blogs and YouTube, in theory, will last forever. Technology will always support converting our current files into future file extensions and uses. Unlike the generations before us, we are generating more personal data than ever before. Digital memories. Our digital footprints will outlast us and it’s our own way of leaving an impact in this world. Billions of us are doing it.

Maybe in the future, our kids or grand kids will visit Jim Morrison’s grave in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. They’ll encounter a headstone and maybe, just maybe, a new cemetery interaction with digital memories such as poetry readings, photographs, album covers, concert footage and interviews.

It gives rest in peace a new meaning. I write, take photographs, think creatively and develop collaborations because I’m focused on creating my own digital memories.

After all, this blog post and crazy concept will live longer than I will.

Renderings courtesy of Michele Jasper.