Online sacralization


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The online memorial site as marked place for performance of grief and construction of memories

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Online sacralization

  1. 1. + Online Sacralization Danish memorial site as a marked place for performing grief and inventing memories Places, People, Stories: the Mediated Places-session, Linnéuniversitetet, Kalmar September 30th 2011 Kjetil Sandvik, Associate professor, University of Copenhagen
  2. 2. an introduction 2 is the only Danish online community for individual performances of grief and mourning over the loss of loved ones (“in memory of those we got, lost and loved”) and facilitates well-known and easy-applied media and interactive materiality Ca. 850 memories (individual memory profiles for dead loved ones) Light a Candle (thousands) 26 different topic divided entries in the ”Forum” Guestbook (one guestbook for each profile) Links to different readings on and sites about death, grief and mourning
  3. 3. + 3 For the ones we have got, loved, and lost
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  8. 8. + 8 ”Death ends a life, not a relationship” Deaths on = Deaths leaving a “WHY?”  Stillborn children  Death of children and young ones ”Small feet leave indelible traces” fills a void for having marked or designated places for morning and bereavement (after the funeral and beside the graveyard): places for performing and displaying acts of mourning in an explicit way which is taboo – at least in protestant countries: a place where it is acceptable that it takes time to recover (or never recover) from the loss (of a child)
  9. 9. + 9 Places  Theperception and interpretation of the physical and material environment we find ourselves in (Carsten Friberg)  Obviously thephysicality and materiality is of another order when we are looking at mediated places
  10. 10. + 10 Media creating places  Today’s new media are not just (re)shaping our sense of place but actually producing new types of places and new types of spatial experiences.  The media evolution in the new millennium has made it increasingly clear that the borders between online and offline places and activities are blurred and dissolved and that physical and mediated places are becoming intertwined.  It is the media that makes it possible to create as a specific social place with intimate relations between its users and with a solid and narrow social framing: a demarcation of an inside and an outside with specific and place-defining social rules enforced inside.
  11. 11. + 11 Materiality of a mediated place  Marked entrances: individual links leading to segregated ‘rooms’ (the memory profiles) separated from the rest of the site (and the web)  Marked difference between and inside and an outside  Personalized design: background texture, imagery and colors, use of text, pictures, drawings and so on.  Personalized and ritualized actions (the process of mourning, of remembering and (re)telling): texts and pictures ‘setting the scene’ (texts, pictures about the death, the loss, the funeral etc.) + diary-like entries (mostly texts (prose, poems, song lyrics) often directly addressing the dead child (continued life with the loss, with the sorrow AND with the dead child as an absent yet present agent: creation of story, of memories)
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  14. 14. + 14 Performative places  Not just places for performance – e.g. of grief and morning and (re)production of memories  But also places which are coming into being by performative acts:  by acts of demarkation, definition and demonstration  using the media as creative tool ’writing’ ritual practices and relationships and thus as both a place for individual mourning and a community for mourners.
  15. 15. + 15 Performative relation-building strategy Community with the dead (on the individual memory profiles)  sharing memories of experiences with the deceased (if the person have lived) in photographic or written form (pictures of birthdays ad other events, ”do you remember when we used to…”)  different dreams of what could have been (” I wish you would have lived to…”).  Sometimes reflected in photos of holidays with living children (“your younger brothers and sisters would have loved to swim with you”)  Sometimes the dead child is transformed into a agent with special qualities, like a guardian angel, family Fairy etc)  lighting a candle, e.g. at bed time, on red-letter days, as a confession etc.: maintaining an ongoing communication with the dead child The memory profiles at are about keeping the memory and the parents alive, keeping life meaningful, moving on 15
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  17. 17. + 17 performative relation-building strategy Community with the living  reflections and meta-reflections on the process of grief (forums)  responses to other individual’s performance of grief: making comments, never critical, always supporting:  directly building a relation to a particular person and her mourning process (guestbook)/becoming visible as a parent to a dead child (“Rikke, Mother of Albert”)  Addressing the dead child in appreciative and/or including terms  lighting a candle for others: contributing to the sense of community Through the online social interaction the individual in grief can rehearse how to represent and perform herself in different social situations. The media-created sociality is experienced to be intimate because of the shared grief and pain however at the same time because it is effectively demarcated from the person’s every day life: socially it is a safe place. 17
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  19. 19. + Writing community into being
  20. 20. + Writing community into being
  21. 21. + Time and place•Present: The place used for theprocess of mourning: dealing withthe grief, the pain and thepersonal consequences of havinglost a child (individually and aspart of the community•Past: the place used fordocumenting and/or inventingmemories of an either very shortlife or a life not lived t all: verythorough documentation physical memorabilia (things(almost fetish-like): photos,drawings, hand and footprintsetc..)•Wishful time: the place used forconstruction of a life that couldhave been lived; inscribing thedead child in narratives about lifecontinuing, about new children(siblings): an important part of theprocess of grief and (re)estab-lishing aa meaningful life.
  22. 22. + The complexity the continuing of place Community with the dead: communiction with the dead child (in- cluding some kind of metaphysical dim- ension Place for tales of the future: the wishes Place for memories The memory profile for things that could and tales of the past have been if the (recalled or con- child had lived structed) Community with the living: the communi- cation with other users at through guestbooks, the forum etc.
  23. 23. + Part of the project: ”Sharing Death – online 23 performances of grief” associated with the ”Death, Materiality and the Origins of Time”- project  Kjetil Sandvik, ph.d., associate professor  Crossmedia Communication  Film & Media Departement, Copenhagen University  Master of Dramaturgy and Asthestics & Culture  Dorthe Refslund Christensen, ph.d. associate professor  Event Culture and Experience Economy (everyday cultural practices and ritualizations)  Scandinvian Dept. Aarhus University  Master of Science of Religion