Presence of Our Past

Submitted by: Jake Vail

Program: Industrial Design

Division: Arts and Humanities

We live in a time of constant digital documentation and accumulation. Camera-equipped mobile devices paired with virtually limitless digital storage has fostered a climate of relentless image capturing. These ever-growing collections of digital images represent a rich, varied, personalized visual narration of our lives. In the past we were better able to curate our smaller image collections due to their scale and form. However, today these exist intangibly, captured and largely forgotten in unorganized storage devices. While we are not willing to delete them we also have no way of meaningfully consuming them at that scale.

Through my research I developed a device for displaying these vast visual collections in our homes. By condensing the mass of photos horizontally, we can begin to create a whole individual image of our past, with each color representing a compressed memory. The collection can be narrowed to focus on individual images or sorted to alter the narrative. This image of my device shows over 1,800 photos (every photo taken during graduate school) that then acts as a visual representation of my experiences during that time.