Digital Remains

Art and Play | Design Output | For Sale

The Thought

What happens to our data when we die?

The Shape

Digital Remains is concerned with the role that data plays when remembering deceased loved-ones. It is a conceptual design piece which assumes a world in which data is stored in online networks, creating digital archives of generations of people. This data is accessed by using physical access keys which become objects of remembrance to the bereaved.

With these access keys (you could call them ‘digital urns’) the bereaved log on to the digital remains of their loved ones.

Digital Remains at the MoMA in New York, 2008

Digital Remains in the MoMA collection

Paula Antonelli, Curator of the ‘Design and the Elastic Mind’ exhibition talking about Digital Remains:

‘You are looking at three beautiful round artefacts. They are very nicely crafted, possibly by hand, and you will notice that they carry a name and two dates: One is the date of birth and the other is the date of death.

This is a beautiful and very poetic work by Michele Gauler, called Digital Remains. It’s based on the idea that as more and more of our lives become digital, our loved ones will want to keep not only our physical but also our digital effects after we are gone.

Each disk contains someones digital remains – images, music and documents, compiled from the various hard drives, networks and webpages created during a life time. When you move a disk close to a computer it can connect to that computer via bluetooth and share the deceased’s digital remains. A programme inside the disc can even search for the media that are most appropriate for the viewer. For a friend, it might show pictures of a party that that friend attended with the deceased, but for relatives it might show a video of a family vacation.

It is a response to the digitisation of our world. To the increased central role of electronic media in storing not only the minutia of our lives but also our ideas, inspirations, aspirations and memories.’

Digital Remains at the Royal College of Art Degree Show, London, 2006

Digital Remains on Display

  • Future Fest, London, 2016
  • Northern Design Festival, Newcastle, 2013
  • Design and the Elastic Mind, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, 2008
  • Royal College of Art Degree Show, London, 2006

Digital Remains in Print

  • LiQin Tan (2018): Singularity Art: The Evolution of Future Art Under the Impact of Singularity of Science and Technology, News Center, Jinan University
  • Tim Parsons (2008): Thinking : Objects – Contemporary Approaches to Product Design, AVA Academia Advanced, 2008
  • Paula Antonelli, Hugh Aldersey-Williams, Peter Hall, Ted Sargent (2008): Design and the Elastic Mind, Thames & Hudson