• Fenestra Design & Field Study
  • Fenestra Design & Field Study
  • Fenestra Design & Field Study
  • Fenestra Design & Field Study
  • Fenestra Design & Field Study
  • Fenestra Design & Field Study
  • Fenestra Design & Field Study
  • Fenestra Design & Field Study
  • Fenestra Design & Field Study
  • Fenestra Design & Field Study
  • Fenestra Design & Field Study

This project the result of an ongoing collaboration with Dr. Daisuke Uriu at the Graduate School of Media Design in Keio University in Tokyo, Japan. This work consists of designing, implementing, and deploying Fenestra–a domestic technology embodied in the form of a wirelessly connected round mirror, photo frame, and candle that displays photos of departed loved ones. Fenestra’s interaction design, form, and materials draw inspriation from the butsudan—a Japanese Buddhist home altar that is a highly significant site for practices of memorializing departed loved ones. Lighting the candle activates the Fenestra system. Indeterminate changes in the brightness and movement of its flame control how photos of the departed are surfaced, cycled through, and remain present on the photo frame and mirror displays. When the user gazes directly at the round mirror, cropped digital portraits of the deceased are displayed (a choice inspired by iei portraits of the departed common in Japanese memorial ceremonies).

 We deployed Fenestra for in the homes of three participants that each represented different life stages and situations, but had experienced the loss of a family member in recent years. Findings revealed that participants drew on Fenestra as a resource for their everyday memorialization practices in valued and, at times, unexpected ways. They also reveal the need for new strategies to better support people’s evolving self-determined practices of living with digital materials evoking the lives of departed loved ones. Our study also led to unanticipated encounters for household members, which revealed several critical issues bound to conducting research in this nascent and growing design space. Collectively, these findings help articulate new strategies for designing interactive systems to support Japanese techno-spiritual practices in meaningful and values-oriented ways, and, more generally, designing technology to take on a longer-term role in everyday life.

Publication

Uriu, D., Odom, W. (2016, in press). Designing for Domestic Memorialization and Remembrance: A Field Study of Fenestra in Japan. In Proceedings of SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. San Jose, USA. CHI ’16. ACM Press. *Best Paper Honorable Mention Award*