The Diversity Project Goes Techno!

I had a wonderful meeting this week with Bill from UK’s Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments (Vis. Center) about creating some kind of technological display that can be displayed alongside the physical blanket. I knew they were involved in amazing things, but had no idea just what they were capable of. I went with no real idea of what I wanted, or what they might be able to offer, and came away with my head blown well and truly off.

We talked a great deal about an interactive display that will allow the Project’s audience to access all the dedications and biographies that are such a crucial part of the Project. What we’ve come up with–very tentatively–is a multitouch display; a large touchscreen that allows users to pull up an image of a blanket square and see who knitted it, who donated the yarn, who it’s dedicated to, and read their stories. This kind of display will really take the Project from being a beautiful piece of art and take it to another level, a level that will prompt questions and create thought and discussion, a level that will mean that the lives that have been lost will continue to be remembered. I’m also hoping that alongside the touchscreen will be another interactive system that will allow users to pull a laminated image of a square out of a “fake” blanket, hold it briefly in front of a small camera, and will then have access to similar information.

As well as providing visual information, this technology also has the capacity to return other kinds of data–audio files and video files are the ones that spring immediately to mind. Participants can, if they choose, record their dedication to their loved one, or record a piece of video footage–it just offers so many more possibilities to make this project even more powerful. It would be wonderful if this could also allow us to play music, certain songs that have meaning to the contributors and their loved ones, but I think I’ll need to speak with someone about the copyright issues that might involve.

The next step is to get approval from the Director of the Vis. Center. As you might imagine, none of this technology is cheap and putting together a display of this size is going to involve a considerable financial commitment and the Vis. Center have to be certain that it will be worthwhile for them to be involved in it; Bill now has to put together a complete cost breakdown and submit it for approval. So now, we wait…

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