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Personal Reflection

This is Philip, writing to speak specifically to my personal experience as not only a creator but performer of this ritual.

A little over six months ago, I ended a relationship with a serious romantic partner. Having made use of an artifact from this relationship in the time capsule exercise earlier in the course, and having disposed of letters from my ex as part of the warmup for this investigation, he was very much on my mind. I was interested in thinking about transforming negative memories rather than destroying them completely, and brought this interest to my team– they encouraged me to share my experience and we decided to use that personal experience to inspire our ritual.

I selected a song from an album that my ex loved and which he bought for me as a gift (from iTunes, so the digital file we used was actually itself the original gift). We shot the concept video in my apartment, where the two of us listened to the album and this song together for the first time. I made the artwork on the same table where he and I ate dinner while we listened.

The ritual was cathartic and transformational for me, certainly. Engaging with the song as an abstract arrangement of colored patterns was easier than listening to it in its proper form. And the added transformation with the markers felt satisfyingly haptic and active in a way the digital transformation did not. I selected colors for my drawing that engaged with and built on the colors the printer had given me, which felt like a way of paying respect to the artifact (and relationship) while still making it something new. And the final drawing that resulted from my gut impulses surprised me, the images evoking resonances I hadn't intentionally created. I look forward to seeing how my relationship with the drawing (and the song) evolves as it continues to live in my home.

I will say that it is hard to separate my experience of the process from the experience of the ritual itself. While I do feel some of the therapeutic effects we hoped our ritual would achieve, I also believe the ritual has more meaning for me because I helped to design it than it might for someone who simply "unboxed" our kit. The additional memories surrounding the class, the project, and the process mean that I have stronger new memories now associated with the song, additional structures to help me let go. The process itself became a ritual for me, and in future I would recommend someone trying to forget or let go create their own ritual to do so. With this in mind, I wonder how in future investigations I can design for even more agency on the part of the person whose memory is in question.

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