Dead Media – Mathilde Lavenne’s Artefact#0, Digital Necrophony

Debuted by Lille-based artist Mathilde Lavenne at the “Panorama 18” exhibition at Le Fresnoy in late 2016, Artefact#0, Digital Necrophony is a mechanical and software meditation on (or mediation of) the digital afterlife. Inspired by American inventor Thomas Edison’s eighteenth century necrophone (a ‘spirit phone’ purported to record the voices of the dead), the project proposes that rather than bury or cremate the body of the deceased, that that individual is instead memorialized by encoding their data into the surface of a marble cylinder. Unlike a decomposing corpse stored in a coffin, this preservation format lasts indefinitely; it can also be played back – gramophone style – enacting a transmigration from lived experience into audiovisual signal.

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