• Adrian Tomine 'Memorial Plaza' New Yorker Cover July 7 & 14 2014

    Day 22: People Taking Selfies at the 9/11 Memorial, because #America

    Selfies from the 9/11 Memorial Leah Finnegan, The Awl (July 21, 2014) Let us begin Day 22 of the 31 Days of Death posts with…

  • Selfies at Funerals

    Selfies at Funerals: Why People Freak Out when Technology Mixes with Death

    Selfies at Funerals Jason Feifer, @HeyFeifer   RT If You’re About Someone Dying Katy Waldman, Slate (November 1, 2013)   A Passionate Defense of Selfies…

  • SxSW Platforms for Haunting: The Talking Dead Podcast

    Platforms for Haunting: The Talking Dead
    SxSW Interactive 2013

    In March 2013, the Death Reference Desk headed to the South by Southwest Interactive conference.

    A podcast of Death Ref John’s talk has now been released and you can listen to it above.

    He was part of presentation called Platforms for Haunting: The Talking Dead.

    Here is a description of the presentation.

    The relationship between death and technology is as old as human civilisation; from cenotaph to facebook memorial, industries have been built on our desire to remember and be remembered. Technology now enables us to create spine-chilling immersive experiences; allowing us to embody the worlds of our ancestors, enter our ghost stories and even plan a little post-mortem haunting ourselves. We want to move the conversation beyond discussions of data legacy to ask whether we can engender a new form of history, one that allows us to interact with the dead.

     

    Bringing together experts in human remains, memorialisation and new technology this Panel will explore our relationship with mortality in a digital age. The discussion will draw on recent projects which have used new technology to augment cemeteries, populate historic sites with ghosts of their past and instigate twitter conversations with a 1,610 year old woman.

    Platforms for Haunting: The Talking Dead SxSW Interactive 2013 In March 2013, the Death Reference Desk headed to the South by Southwest Interactive conference. A…

  • SixWordEpitaphs

    Death Ref heads to South by Southwest (SxSW) in Texas

    Platforms for Haunting: The Talking Dead South by Southwest Interactive media conference Saturday, March 9 5:00PM – 6:00PM Radisson Town Lake Town Lake Ballroom 111…

  • QR Code headstone

    QR Codes on Gravestones…Second Verse Same as the First.

    High-Tech Headstones Speak from Beyond the Grave Jeff Strickler, The Star Tribune (July 14, 2012) They use QR codes to link to photos and videos…

  • Social Media Web Users Keep Dying…Second Verse Same as the First

    On the Media: Updating Your Social Media After You Die WNYC Public Radio (March 23, 2012) With social media, so much of our interactions with…

  • Facebook memorialization request

    19,000 Facebook Users Die Each Day. Here is How FB’s Memorialization Mode Works

    Living Online After Death Faces Nebraska Legal Battle BBC News (January 31, 2012) WNYC’s On the Media radio program dedicated this entire week’s show to…

  • Secretary_of_War_John_Weeks,_Pres._Calvin_Coolidge,_and_Asst._Secretary_of_the_Navy_Theodore_Roosevelt,_Jr.,_at_Tomb_of_the_Unknown_Soldier,_Armistice_Day

    Virtual Graves for Armistice Day

    How to visit a Virtual Grave Alison Winward, The Guardian (November 10, 2010)   Armistice Day Marked Around the World – In Pictures The Guardian…

  • WTC_New_York

    10 Years

    This American Life In this show, we return to people who’ve been on This American Life in the last ten years, whose lives were drastically…

  • Many_bullets

    Praise the Lord and Pass the Cremated Remains Filled Ammunition

    Holy Smoke Planning a loved ones final arrangements can be a challenging responsibility, one you want to do with care and consideration. Allow Holy Smoke…

  • Keeping Your Dead Pets Alive Forever

    Furever
    Amy Finkel, Director

    We humans love our pets. A lot. We love them so much that when they die the grieving process can become overwhelming. Over the last ten years the number of companies and funeral homes offering pet memorialization services, products, and bereavement literature have ballooned.

    Meg came across the following in-development documentary on pet loss. The film, Furever, has got chops so we’re throwing its director, Amy Finkel, a Death Ref bone.

    Ok. Enough with the bad metaphors and puns.

    The Death Reference Desk has been running dead pet stories for a long time and we are more than happy to add this one to the list.

    Two words: Freeze Drying.

    Furever is a documentary exploration of pet preservation, or, the processes by which a deceased pet is professionally conserved. I have shot forty hours of footage of one technique, freeze-drying, which produces disarmingly lifelike results. This seemingly bizarre practice offers a unique perspective on mortality, grief, and mourning. The concepts investigated in Furever will disarm anyone who might want to dismiss the subjects as mere oddball caricatures.

     

    Furever contributes to the dialogue on death and grief, bewildering aspects of the human condition, begun by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, dovetailing with the growing trend toward pet anthropomorphism, and the anguish that befalls the owners of deceased pets. Many dismiss or judge pet preservationists for being “unbalanced,” yet the assorted rituals in place for deceased human loved ones, while precious to those who practice them, often seem odd or unusual to outsiders.

    Furever Amy Finkel, Director We humans love our pets. A lot. We love them so much that when they die the grieving process can become…

  • Where New York’s Unclaimed Dead Bodies Get Buried

    Artist’s Study of Island Brings the Dead to Life
    Adam Geller, Associated Press (October 30, 2010)

     

    Hart Island Project
    Melinda Hunt

    This is a really compelling article about a New York burial ground for unclaimed bodies. Adam Geller, from the Associated Press, wrote a lengthy piece about both Hart Island (the cemetery) and artist Melinda Hunt, who turned Hart Island into a fascinating artistic project.

    It’s a great read. You will find similar kinds of articles in the Death + The Economy section of Death Ref. There is no shortage of unclaimed dead bodies these days.

    At top is a short section from a documentary entitled Hart Island: An American Cemetery.

    Artist’s Study of Island Brings the Dead to Life Adam Geller, Associated Press (October 30, 2010)   Hart Island Project Melinda Hunt This is a…