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Preserving a digital family for the future

26 October 2015 @TeesUniNews

 

A forward thinking artist is looking to the future and creating opportunities to bring deceased family members back to ‘virtual’ life through digital technology and social media activity.

Have you ever wanted to chat again with your grandmother or ask her life advice?

With Simon McKeown’s ‘Preserved Memories’ he proposes that in the future you will be able to reconstitute your reality so that you never have to permanently say goodbye to a loved one again.

Preserved Memories suggests that by combining state-of-the-art gaming technology, voice synthesis and Big Data streams – such as social media, government databases and health records – we will be able to create a synthetic digital life which you recognise and which will recognise you.

It is the brainchild of Simon McKeown, a Reader in Animation and Post Production at Teesside University, who says that in 50 years’ time, this kind of technology will be seen in a similar way to how the Xbox or Playstation is seen today.

Simon is currently displaying Preserved Memories at the Dox Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague as part of the Brave New World Exhibition, which runs until 25 January next year. It features the work of over 20 artists from around the world who use topics such as surveillance, consumerism and the media to display a ‘dismal future that has already arrived’.

Preserved Memories uses a process called ‘photogrammetry’ where you can accurately reconstruct a virtual 3D shape of a human being from existing photographs and video. In addition, the advancement in computer voice synthesis, will also take into account local and regional accents and deliver a more personalised, human experience. When you link these virtual humans to Big Data streams the system will create a digital lifeform which is up to date and informed about your activities. If you have been shopping or to the doctors, the virtual character will already know.

Simon said: 'In the future with Preserved Memories, you will never have to experience the loss of a loved one. You will be able to add to your family tree and select new family members, including famous faces and legends, all of whom will already know about you.

'Using emotion-sensitive human-computer interaction our artificially intelligent participants continue to acquire ongoing knowledge long after their death - they evolve digitally and do not die.

'This life form will be up to date and informed of your daily activities through GPS, Wifi, health and fitness tracking, consumer records and much more. They will know if you have passed your exam, driving test, flown on holiday, bought new shoes, ditched your boyfriend. They will know what you tell it on social media and also by the constant tracking that occurs every day.

'Our prime data feeds mean digital participants instantly know what you have done and can sense your physical mood and excitement.'

Simon has over 25 years of professional creative experience. His Motion Disabled Unlimited project - a stunning digital installation which used animation to show how disabled athletes move - was shown all over the world and was an integral part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

He recently showed Cork Ignite to a one off audience of over 10,000 people who saw a riverside building brought to life with a stunning digital projection.


In the News

Lost loved ones could be reborn digitally
Czech Radio, 21/01/2016
Simon McKeown talks about his Preserved Memories exhibition which is on display at the Dox Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague.


Preserving a digital family for the future
Czech Television, 19/01/2016
Simon McKeown talks about his Preserved Memories exhibition which is on display at the Dox Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague.


Lost loved ones could be reborn digitally
Daily Telegraph, p.14, 27/10/2015, Daily Telegraph, online, 27/10/2015, Mail Online, 27/10/25, World News Daily, online, 28/10/2015, City AM, online, 28/10/2015, Times of India, online, 28/10/2015, The Statesman, online, 02/11/2015
Artist Simon McKeown's latest exhibition shows how in the future you will be able to bring deceased family members back to ‘virtual’ life through digital technology and social media activity.


Thanks to social media histories, we can haunt loved ones virtually in the afterlife
Fox News Online, 29/10/2015, TechSum, online, 30/10/2015, Yahoo Finance, online, 29/10/2015
Simon McKeown of Teesside University says that within 50 years, computers will be so advanced, they will be able to create avatars of dead relatives.


Computer Developments at Teesside University
BBC Radio Cornwall, 27/10/2015; One News Page, 28/10/2015; NewsR.in, 28/10/2015
Preserved memories and the development of computers in 50 years time.