A New Ritual For Minami Sanriku

Posted by Daniela Covarrubias on November 16, 2011
Nov 162011

As a team, we are invested in providing the community with the framework for a ritual in which they can take an active role in remembering the places of significance within their former built environment. By providing a method with which they can physically revisit and retrace the spaces that held meaning for them before the destruction, we are allowing them to truly personalize the process of memorializing. The individual act and the aggregation of those acts into a large group becomes the memorial. Rather than instantiating the memory in a single static form, the memory is preserved through a person’s interaction (and the documentation of that interaction) with the actual space of their memories.

My interest in mapping these paths of memory is certainly related to my architectural education (but also more generally reflects my place in a map-loving society). With both this desire to flatten our understanding of movement into a two dimensional map as a way to abstract and ease the accessibility of that information and the desire to create a tangible infrastructure for interacting with that space, we developed the mechanism of a balloon, light, camera, and seeds to create a clear visual punch that remains playful while at once making the logistics of the endeavor possible. The BALLOON is the buoy, the LIGHT is the beacon. The CAMERA captures the moment and the movement as a sort of once removed permanent artifact of the event. The scattered SEEDS capture the moment and the movement beyond the frozen image; they capture it not only visually as the plants bloom in those places, but temporally (the plant’s life cycle) and tangibly (sense of smell, sense of touch).

Another aspect of the project is the form the gift will take in terms of how we will relay the idea of the ritual and the physical packaging of those artifacts. Our hope is to create a package that contains the documentation of our own trial runs of the ritual as a form of demonstration as well as a short book that illustrates the narrative of the ritual with the simplicity and clarity of user’s manuals and children’s books in mind. Additionally, we would like to include a prototype of the balloon mechanism (including the light and the seed/pigment container) in the package. If possible, we are also considering sending the balloon pre-inflated, so that it floats out upon opening the package.

In the design process thus far, my main role has been to visualize, or storyboard, the sequence of the ritual.