Enabling Ongoingness: Creating meaningful connections around death and end of life

Digital Health

Collaborators Northumbria University

Abstract

Ongoingness is a EPSRC funded project exploring how we can create meaningful connections with people who have passed on or who are at the end of life.

Method

Open Lab have created a number of artefacts including a digital locket, and an audio device that invites the listener to discover stories captured and curated by loved ones.

Takeaways

The project is called Enabling Ongoingness because the term ongoingness suggests that our relationships with each other, especially the most personally meaningful of these, do not end if someone dies.

Ongoingness is a EPSRC funded project and a collaboration between Northumbria University and Open Lab looking at how we can create meaningful connections with people who have passed on or who are at the end of life.

One aim of the project is to find new ways to capture and represent something meaningful about an individual and their relationships through a combination of physical things and digital media (which could mean photographs, music, film clips etc).

We hope to better understand the potential benefits that design and digital technologies can bring to people to offer new ways to:

  • Express a sense of who they are in the present, but also for the future
  • Make objects and media content that will support other people after one’s death
  • Enable people, who are already bereaved, to maintain lasting bonds in new ways with someone who has now died.

The project is called Enabling Ongoingness because the term ongoingness suggests that our relationships with each other, especially the most personally meaningful of these, do not end if someone dies. For many people there is continuity and something that lasts that can be of great comfort and inner support for people when they are bereaved. Rather than thinking of endings, we are championing continued bonds between people in this project and hope to support these for participants and to enable people to think of things that we could all make together not only for now, but also for the future.

Artefacts

There has been a number of artefacts created so far.

Refind - connecting us to the past

Refind connecting people to the past using photographs.
Refind connecting people to the past using photographs.

Refind gives people a way to re-explore their relationships with deceased loved ones by sharing photos from the present, and receiving media from the past, so we can provide a continuing dialogue with lost loved ones.

A digital locket - creating new meanings around end of life

A digital locket containing photos of precious photos of the past and changing photos shared by family.
A digital locket containing photos of precious photos of the past and changing photos shared by family.

The digital locket contains precious photos from the person’s family, which can be uploaded at any time. This means family members from across the world can connect with their loved ones, and even upload new photos as a surprise.

Trails - visit places and relive old stories

Listen to stories from loved ones while visiting places that are meaningful for your family.
Listen to stories from loved ones while visiting places that are meaningful for your family.

Trails is a tiny audio artefact that invites the listener to discover stories captured and curated by loved ones with dementia when visiting places that are meaningful for you and your family.

Blueprints - turning physical artefacts into media

Working with a series of fabric collages, we developed a method for translating physical properties of objects into digital materialities of media compilations.

Taking cloth from dresses made by her mother, Jayne Wallace created a collage that then translates into a digital film.

The physical qualities that result from making the fabric collages (variation in layerings, thicknesses, stitching, fraying) each map onto directions for how the corresponding digital media will be composed in a compilation, and serves as a collaborative method of curating media in new ways.

Publications

ReFind: design, lived experience and ongoingness in bereavement

  1. Wallace J
  2. Montague K
  3. Duncan T
  4. Luís P. Carvalho
  5. Koulidou N
  6. Mahoney J
  7. Morrissey K
  8. Craig C
  9. Linnea Iris Groot
  10. Lawson S
  11. Olivier P
  12. Trueman J
  13. Fisher H

2020Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI’20)