Artist Fernando Orellana may have invented a device to help ghosts reconnect with the world of the living. In a new project called Shadows Fernando is designing interactive devices for the ghosts of the recently deceased. He calls them “techno effigies.” To make these devices, Fernando visits estate sales and picks a single item that he feels may have been important to the person recently passed. Then he constructs the device to help the ghost use the object. For example, one device called Her Bell is equipped with a simple mechanism that rings the brass bell Fernando found at the home of a deceased bell collector. To detect the presence of ghosts, Fernando’s devices continuously monitors the immediate environment for changes in temperature, infrared light, and electromagnetic waves — factors believed by paranormal researchers to indicate the presence of a spirit. If a a ghost is detected, the device is triggered.
The Shadows project rests on a lot of assumptions. The biggest being that ghosts in fact exist. But, if you’re willing to make that leap, Fernando’s devices allow us to imagine what else might happen if ghosts really did want to stick around here on earth.
While the project might have some more absurd implications for ghosts, it has some serious ones for those of us still living. These machines are essentially memorials, a way for us living to pay homage to the dead. In fact Fernando refers to them as “techno- effigies ” He even had a woman ask him to make one for her when she dies.
This week, I speak with Fernando Orellana about designing for ghosts.
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