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During the 90s, I created a Dia de los Muertos Altar, Day of the Dead Shrine, dedicated to my Abuelita Modesta. My challenge was to create a shrine, which incorporated interactive computer technology and honored the traditions of Dia de los Muertos. There were two sections to the shrine. Entering the first room, there was a table, covered with modern Bolivian textiles. On the table sat one the earliest versions of the Macintosh computer. The monitor and computer were both in a small, beige, rounded corner box. The monitor was only black and white. I put a frame around the monitor so the rest of the computer wasn’t visible. The frame was created out of foam core, and I pasted cutout animal designs similar to the ones I had seen at the site of Tiahuanaco, a pre Incan ruin. Running on the Macintosh, was an interactive animation of my Abuelita Modesta’s life and death.
To reach the second portion of the installation, you had to go past a curtain. Behind the curtain was a 7’ shrine, inspired by Mayan architecture. On top of the shrine sat a monitor. As the viewer came close to the shrine, they saw themselves on the monitor. Then, all of a sudden, their image turned into a skull. The skull started laughing and then disintegrated.
I enjoy the ritual playfulness of death expressed in Latin America for Dia de los Muertos. In the United States and Western culture death is rarely associated with laughter.