Thursday, July 26, 2012

Remember the NAMES

Do you know what the image above is? Clicking it to enlarge the image probably won't help. You may have seen part of what it depicts somewhere, but you’ve never seen the whole thing in real life, ever. This is a representation of the entire NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.

The digital exhibit of the Quilt was created as a special project by Microsoft Research Connections, together with the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Innovation Lab, Brown University, University of Iowa, National Endowment for the Humanities and the NAMES Project Foundation. It is the only way to see the entire Quilt in one place.

The project was done because the Quilt is now so massive that it’s impossible to display in one place: It has some 50,000 panels and weights 54 tons (108,000 US pounds, which is roughly 49 tonnes, or 48,988kg). If it was all rolled out, the Quilt alone would cover some 1.3 million square feet—that’s nearly 30 acres (120,773.95 square metres, or 12.077395 hectares), and that’s not even counting the walkways (the Quilt was displayed with eight panels in a block, walkways between the blocks).

Of course, it’s possible to see the panels at the NAMES Project website, where it’s also searchable (although that function wasn’t working when I visited today, I have used it in the past to look at panels of friends). This project, however, provides another way to view it and to grasp its enormity—and the enormity of the loss.

According to Wired, where I saw this (h/t to Daniel Brewer who posted it to Google+), “it’ll take you well over a month to view the whole thing.” I found the site slow and difficult to navigate, and that’d be the only reason it would take that long. However, spending a little time viewing a little of the quilt is perfectly okay, of course, as is doing that by viewing parts in person when parts of it are on display. In fact, I encourage that.

But having the ability to see the entire quilt again is great in itself, especially because doing so in person is now impossible. To me, this virtual display is as powerful as the real thing precisely because doing that is impossible.

And it’s always good to remember those lost, too.


Roger Owen Green said...

yes, I have searched the database in the past, but can't today. I KNOW AT LEAST ONE FRIEND ON IT.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

I know several people on it, some friends but - thank goodness - no really close friends. I've been very lucky, in so many ways.