Could death really be so gentle with the help of technology?
The Latin phrase memento mori, meaning, “remember you will die”, denotes objects which remind us of our mortality. What alternative memento mori practices and rituals might be created in light of current developments in technology and science?
Cloaked in the fictional identity of The MeMo Organization, Jessica presents a vitrine filled with seven designed objects each accompanied by a short story that explores a range of poetic rituals and attitudes towards death and mourning in relation to emerging developments in science, philosophy and technology.
The research ranges over a wide field, including the relatively recent medicalization and banishment of death and mourning from public experience, the emergence of palliative and hospice care, the funeral industry and the green burial movement, the impact of new digital and biological technologies, and a growing desire for increased meaning in the service of a dying self.
She distills her research into a collection of tools which facilitate a series of intimate narratives voiced by characters struggling in various ways with mortality. The characters remain anonymous in these short stories where love and loss are recurring motifs.
Concept, modelmaking, writing and illustrations by Jessica Charlesworth MA (RCA), UK (1979)
Since graduating from the Design Interactions program at the Royal College of Art in 2007, Jessica has run her own practice conducting speculative design projects, often collaborating with scientists, futurists, designers and academics including think tanks Foresight (UK) and the Institute for the Future (US). With this interdisciplinary approach she explores alternative futures that new technologies and science may hold. Jessica has exhibited at the MAKVienna, Ace Museum in LA and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.
The MeMo Cabinet is distilled from a wide ranging field of research. The recent medicalization and banishment of death & mourning from public experience, the emergence of hospice care, the funeral industry & the green burial movement, the impact of new digital & biological technologies & a growing desire for increased meaning in the service of the dying self.
What if there was a service to ease the grief of losing my partner?
The Hasting Center: End of Life
Center for Death and Society
Ways to Deal with Grief
French perfume maker bottles scent of the departed
For As Long As We Both Shall Live
What if we cryogenically froze our commitment to each other in the Siberian permafrost?
Vacations to the Siberian Permafrost
Photographer captures oldest living organism
Transhumanism and the Posthuman Future
Can We Live Forever?
The economic problems of cryogenics
Object of my Fears
What if my cancer became a memento mori?
Culture of Death and Afterlife: Memento Mori
Beyond the Good Death: Anthropology of Modern Death
What if we could plan to die at the same time?
Can a blood test really tell you when you'll die?
Test your blood to reveal your biological age
Scientists accurately predict age with saliva sample
Stem cells reverse aging process
Carcinogenic food additives
Anti aging health regimes
The Weeping Farm
What if I could profit from my grief?
Antibacterial enzyme found in tears eradicates anthrax
The National Funeral Directors Convention
The History of the Tearcatcher
DNA sequenced of woman who lived to 115
A Good Death: Elizabeth Kubler Ross
Live forever and upload your brain
The Order of the Good Death
The Well Planned Funeral
The Singularity Institute
"MeMo Co., a mock company devised by the speculative designer Jessica Charlesworth. Though slick and ironic in presentation, the company’s wares resonate with surprising sensitivity. A tumor becomes a bulbous gold ring, rendering sickness visible and impotent. A mold of the beloved’s face, left on the mourner’s pillow, provides traces that soothe. A regimen of pills allows lovers of different ages to sync up their life spans. Could death really be so gentle, with the help of technology?"
- Lori Waxman, Chicago Tribune, May 9th 2012
"Here, the literal mementos of death are on display in the form of the pills and syringes of medical treatment or the bedclothes and personal ephemera of hospice care. These objects, and further dreamlike flourishes from some dystopian but none-too-distant future, interweave with a fictive narrative that tells the story, in gripping first person perspective, of an individual living through their partner’s disease, palliation and, finally, death. Charlesworth is an excellent writer. The alternate universe of customs and rituals she describes is both lushly rendered and emotively conveyed in such a way that it feels immediately accessible."
- Maura Lucking, The Dying Self, fNews Magazine, March 19th 2012
MeMo Press Release
For further enquiries contact:
Parsons & Charlesworth studio or Balloon Contemporary
2012-Jessica Charlesworth. All rights reserved.