AIDS Memorial Quilt: The Digital Experience

This summer MIC is involved in an exciting and culturally significant new project: the creation of digital, interactive experiences to augment the commemorative viewing of the AIDS Memorial Quilt in Washington DC. MIC co-founder Ioana Literat will be on the ground in Washington as the Project Manager of this initiative. The project is a collaboration between the Public Interactives Research Team (led by Anne Balsamo) at the University of Southern California (USC), the NAMES Project Foundation in Atlanta, GA, and the Digital Studio for the Public Humanities at the University of Iowa, under the direction of artist Jon Winet.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt is a unique work of international ARTS ACTIVISM that reflects the worldwide scope and personal impact of the AIDS pandemic:

  • The textile Quilt is composed of 48,000 individual PANELS that commemorate more than 91,000 names.
  • The size of the physical Quilt measures more than 1.3 million square feet. If laid out in its entirety, it would cover more than 29 acres of land.
  • It would take a visitor more than 33 days to view every panel—spending only 1 minute at each panel.  
  • It is the largest LIVING MEMORIAL of its kind in the world.

The year 2012 marks the 25th anniversary of the creation of the Quilt. In July 2012, it will be laid out—in its entirety—on the Mall of Washington for the first time since 1996. It will take four days (July 21-25) to display all 48,000 panels.

We know that not everyone who has an interest in the AIDS Memorial Quilt can make the trip to Washington, DC this summer.  Moreover, the entire Quilt has grown so large that all the panels cannot be viewed in one session.

Therefore, we have designed a mobile web app called AIDS QUILT TOUCH  (www.aidsquilttouch.org) that enables people to search for a specific name on a panel and to contribute comments to a Digital Guest Book. For visitors in Washington DC this summer, this application will also enable them to locate the display of a specific panel when it is laid out on the National Mall.

In addition to smartphones, the application will be available on several Microsoft Surface tables on location at the National Mall. It is also available online, as a web app, at aidsquilttouch.org

We consider the development of the AIDS QUILT TOUCH mobile web app an appropriate use of digital technologies in the service of cultural good.  The aim is NOT to replace or interfere with the experience of viewing the textile Quilt, but to augment that experience and to extend the opportunity to view the Quilt to people all over the world through on-line access.

After the Quilt 2012 events, the AIDS QUILT TOUCH mobile web app will continue to serve as a portal that enables people to browse the entire collection of Quilt panels, to read the many stories of the Quilt, to trace the travels of any single panel, and to participate in crowdsourcing information about individual panels.

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About micebergcollective

We are a multinational group of UWC graduates from Romania, Bangladesh and Colombia and the U.S. Thanks to the mission of UWC we have become a group of artists and political activists who are committed to use film and media in order to promote international understanding, environmental awareness, civic engagement and human rights advocacy. Thanks to UWC and Middlebury College we were able to pursue our passion for social media and collaborate on audiovisual projects that envisioned media as an educational and empowering force. Thus, in our senior year of college, we formed ‘The Melting Iceberg Collective’, an advocacy group that uses video and social networking on the Internet to raise awareness on environmental, social and political issues worldwide, in an effort to inspire people to take action in their own communities.
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