Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Interactive Memorials

This morning, in my History of Peace Movements class, while discussing Danish resistance to Nazi occupation, the documentary Paper Clips was brought up.

The film follows the project of a middle school in Tennessee who, in 1998, aimed to collect six million paper clips, representing the number of victims of the Holocaust, and consequently, gaining a better understanding of just how large of a number six million is. The school exceeded their goal and by last count are up to eleven million paper clips. The paperclips are currently housed in a German transport car and are available for public viewing at the Children's Holocaust Museum in Whitwell, Tennessee.

Public sculptures and memorials help create a sense of place in a community. I believe the most provoking memorials are those which are interactive. A prime example is the Berlin Holocaust Memorial, designed by architect Peter Eisenman, which opened to the public in 2005.

Berlin Holocaust Memorial

The concrete blocks vary in height, sometimes taller than the visitor, and the ground undulates.

Overall, the visitor is disorientated and uneasy, recreating what the victims of the Holocaust must have felt on their way to concentration camps.

Eisenman's design is very unusual for a memorial, and really, unusual for just a public space. It is effective at drawing people in, and it heightens the senses of the visitor.  Because of it's effectiveness, it should be interesting to see if the idea of an "interactive memorial" becomes more popular in cities the world over.

Pictures courtesy of tumblr.

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