Memory Lanterns ritualizes the personal release of a digital memory without erasing the memory from existence. The process of actually letting go takes place in a virtual reality world, where users can take a digital media element they wish to forget (photos, videos, text posts), attach them to a sky lantern and let them float into the sky, imitating an open disposal process. This virtual world is a globally shared environment, so any user entering the space can look up and see lanterns released from users all over the world. This VR experience is augmented outside with a personally-owned tabletop lantern. Points of light are emitted in all directions into the surrounding environment, representing a lantern that has been let go by somebody, somewhere in the world. The device also indicates newly released memories in real time through visual and auditory cues. The purpose of this project is to give people a way to reflect and release their digital memories into an ether from which they will never be able to retrieve them. By visualizing all released memories, both in the VR environment and with the device, we hope to create a sense of community and not being alone in one’s hardships.
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