The Echoic Vessels project by Dagny Rewera
The Echoic Vessels project is a series of cremation urns, which are capable of storing sound memory loops in the surface of the object. By embedding the material of the urn with micron size magnetic pigments such as magnetite and iron oxides, words, numbers, sounds and even images can be preserved as invisible patterns of north and south, creating a hidden capsule of information. The data is stored through magnetic recording similar to an old cassette tape/player and is retrieved by putting the object in rotating motion and placing the reading wand on the magnetic pattern.
As echoic memories are stored in our brain for much longer then iconic ones and need only 4 seconds of sound to be triggered, the urn stores short sounds related to the life of the deceased, triggering the memories of the bereaved person, creating a tangible object of remembrance.
Memories have a tendency of fading away, just as objects might erode or tarnish over time. Through use, the sound encoded in the particles of iron oxide and magnetite, slowly disintegrate into dust, distorting the recorded sound. By limiting the number of times the data can be retrieved, the object becomes more precious and ought to be used in the times needed the most.
The slow process of fading away of the sound memories, mirrors the process of healing after the loss of a loved one. The moment when the recording starts to distort, works as an indicator that the grieving process is coming slowly to an end.
What makes the object special is the memories that make the object come alive. Each object is personalised with a set of sounds, either recorded by the deceased before death as a form of will or collected from various sources by the bereaved after the death of a close one.
The form of the object does not reveal the second nature to its function. The user holds the secret to the object and keeps the reading wand hidden away. Only when the urn is put in motion with the reading wand positioned in the right place, the hidden story of the object is revealed.
The project is currently exhibited at the Royal College of Art, Design Products degree show, until the 30th of June.
all images © Jarek Kotomski courtesy Dagny Rewera