chapter  5
15 Pages

Augmented graves and virtual Bibles

Digital media and material religion
WithTim Hutchings

This chapter seeks to explore and question the understanding of the material object by applying it to the realm of mediation. It begins by tracing the Internet's shift over time from the alternative reality of "cyberspace" to its contemporary status as the mundane, often invisible infrastructure of everyday life. The chapter discusses digital technology and online content as kinds of "materiality", drawing on discussions in material religion and digital media studies. It describes examples taken from two rather different fields: digital Bibles and online memorials. In some cases, digital media have been used to augment physical memorials, just as Uncover added QR codes to a paper Bible. Memory objects play a particularly rich role in death, bereavement and commemoration. Memorials can be physical, augmented, virtual or networked, or they can combine physical and digital in more nuanced ways, like Story Shell's use of plastic, paper, lights and audio recordings.