Memory, Love, and the Handmade in Interactive Data Installation

The following is a short paper to preface a talk about my new media arts practice in the context of sharing of data installations and net art that will be presented in May at the 28th International Symposium for Electronic Arts 2023: Symbiosis in Paris, France. Artists talks at ISEA are 10 min talks that present works in progress. I am posting this because it will not be published in the proceedings, but I would like this to be archived publicly somehow.

I talk briefly about these two works in this page as it was written about for the exhibition, but this piece of writing includes some more in depth research based theory which will later direct me into my current focus in my arts practice, world-building. I am producing net art and implementing natural language processing methods from literature about agape and erotic love.


This talk presents a media arts practice intent on revealing data trails from various forms of common technology that embodies handmade and empathetic qualities. Thematically framing data as supplement to memory formation, intimate datasets are sets of data that encapsulates the inner self. The talk explores two works that use real-time data input to display visual output in artistic installation. The first work called Pulse of Anonymous Memories utilizes a live feed of a viewer’s heartrate to animate floating images of “anonymous memories”. The installation is made up of hanging fabric that is illuminated by projection mapped imagery that resembles holograms when in the dark. The second work called Handmade Dataset imagines making datasets between two people of memories as an act of love. The two works explore interactivity between people and their data while carrying out actions that are both tactile and require an empathetical exchange with themselves or another person.


As we inch closer to being more integrated with technology, our personal data can be collected in many forms. This arts practice is defined by finding ways to collect data that shares the more vulnerable parts of oneself and using it to generate artistic data visualization. Using intimate datasets as a creative medium can become a meaningful way to reflect on special moments in one’s life, or a cathartic process heal from traumas.

This talk is a presentation of different methods of collecting data, methods of creating interactive data installations that cultivate a sense of communion with oneself and loved ones. As we leave data trails from various devices, we hold the ability to encapsulate the data and rebuild memory-like reconstructions for reflection and cherishment. Two projects will be shared where data is collected in real time to cultivate empathy from intimate data.


To understand the qualities of the empathetic and handmade in new media work, we must grasp the concept of love. The group of works and practice itself frames love in different forms. Agape love is a charitable form of love that centers itself around unmerited graciousness in the attempt to benefit humankind versus erotic love eros and preferential love (phileo) given to friends and family [1].

Data collection and formation is an embodiment of memory formation. The collection and storage of memory is definitive in identification of and how to love. In Love in Contemporary Technoculture, Ania Molinowska states that computer science “reveals the pattern-line structure of our emotional interactions” and thus shows the computability and calculability of our engagements [2]. A cold quantification of emotional warmth conveys a future of data trails left behind to tell the story of love.

The handmade as method is a response to the idea of the crisis of love erosion of the Other”, a dramatic process resulting form the narcissification of the Self and the commodification of love [3]. Stripping away the nature of computational power and requirement of human touch and collection preserves the nurturing required for love in all its forms.

Pulse of Anonymous Memories

Pulse of Anonymous Memories is a large-scale interactive installation consisting of six pieces of hanging fabric with images projection mapped over them. The fabric looks as if it is floating in space due to being hung with fishing wire and the projections create a hologram-like appearance. This is a reference from the film, A World of Tomorrow, where the main character, Emily, recounts opening a gallery of anonymous memories of her lover[4]. Mixing the use of hand-drawn illustrations of angelic entities and cyanotypes of the macrame of a family heirloom, the images’ rgb channels animate to the beat of the viewer’s heartrate by pressing on a sensor. The layering of the rbg channels mix colors to create a technicolor tv effect. The macrame acts as the vessel for a heart rate sensor on a platform. The six angelic beings are meant to bring solace and safety, despite their incomprehensible form used to protect humans from evil. The self-driven internal force of a heartbeat acts as the force to drive the pulsating movement of the angelic forms. This connection causes an ebb and flow between fear and safety.

Figure 1. Six pieces of fabric hang anointed with projections of seraphims in a dark lit space. Their images pulse to the beat of the heart of whose hand touches the macrame cloth.

Handmade Dataset

Handmade Dataset imagines the act of compiling data of a memory as an act of love. This work is a byproduct of noticing a habit of carefully trying to take in sensory information while in a state of vulnerability and intimacy. The interface is meant for two people to access at once where they are free to input data relating to their current sensations. The data is casted out as a visualization. Then, they have an option to print out their visualization to the main printer in the floor of the gallery. A pile of handmade datasets grows over time, forming a relic of shared memories between lovers. There is a melancholy to this process. The anticlimactic realism of the concept proves the unattainable goal of trying to reconstruct a sacred moment. Even finely tuned data collection and visualization will never reconfigure the moment as it was originally experienced.

Figure 1. A screenshot of a visualization created by two individuals using the handmade dataset.


The handmade within contemporary technology is the embodiment of weaving intentional meaning towards formation and reflection of memories of love and connection. The erosion of love only seaps into our reality by allowing the commodification of technology to disrupt the perception of the Other. In the future, there will be more prototyping and development of a larger database of handmade datasets, as well as embodiments of how they can exist as physical representations of memory.