New vision on death and remembrance in the 21st century

Natalia Shipilova
Apr 27, 2017 · 11 min read

I love life and thanks to this project I appreciate it even more. I understand that I will die one day like all people even if medicine propose to replace all my organs and I became a walking surrogate. It’s not just about getting immortal physically or virtually, it’s about value of life here and now, in self-fulfilment, natural happiness and love of life. And no matter when we check out this wonderful life, there would be less regrets or no regrets at all.

I deeply care about my body after death and virtual me, which can be created due to artificial intelligence (AI), and it will be more and more precise and of high quality as we observe with photo cams’ evolution.

This project has a mission — to raise awareness of death, and thus awareness of life. No matter whether we believe in life after death or not. Awareness of death means its acceptance as a natural process, to know how to say goodbye and let it go, to appreciate life here and now and to answer the following questions:

How do you want to die? What you feel you’re gonna look like? What’s going to be with your body and your possessions? What would be a good end of life? What would be with your belongings? What about our digital legacies? How do we want to be remembered?

This mission is possible with the help of nature, art, creative thinking, digital and beautiful environment, where people feel themselves naturally and approach such delicate issues without dark painful attributes, because everything is about life.

This concept contains a number of elements with the common value — love — love of those who are not with us anymore, love of life, love of nature. All the elements are presented on my web page.

Maybe one day cemeteries would turn into natural environment for keeping memories and a family tree, and not only physical bodies. And no matter where you move to, you can come to any cemetery and pay tribute to your beloved ones, inspire yourself with memories and once again feel gratitude to life. Maybe one day planning would become a part of our life style.


Promession is friendly not only by its title «promessa» — promise to bring back into the earth. This is an eco-friendly method to turn a body into ashes by way of freeze drying. There is a similar technology called cryomation. Psychologically promesssion is closer than cremation’s hellfire. Moreover, cremation emits more carbon dioxide to the air and takes more energy.

​The most environmentally friendly technology is resomation, that is similar to a body’s dissolution, but within less time.

There are a number of options, what to do with ashes. While making a research I gathered them in my blog post. In this concept I propose elements which are friendly to nature and express love: ashes ‘planted’ with a tree or buried as a heart.

​Inspired by:

Be a tree

This option is becoming more and more popular, so it can be developed as an independent domain:

  • to bury ashes in earth for a tree,
  • to bury ashes in the existing tree,
  • to be naturally buried under a tree.

In this concept trees became one of the key elements of the Cemetery as a natural environment where all three options can be organically implemented and geo tagged with a story of life.

​Inspired by: Capsula Mundy, Bios Urns

Heart for ashes

Love lives forever and connects to those who is not with us anymore. This symbol is reflected in the shape of heart for ashes. The deepening for hands on the backside makes it comfortable to hold.

When a heart is buried, it can be geo tagged with a life story in App and Museum.

A heart is friendly to nature and totally dissolved within several months.


Tombs as a rule are set in a year after burials. They are usually created by professionals who do not know the deceased personally.

I think, it’s important to give opportunity for people to express their feelings within the first days after their beloved ones passed away.

In this concept at the burial site a temporary wooden tomb is set where people can bring their memories and things that are connected to their beloved one — stories, pictures, drawings, posters. This is an absolute reflection of love.

Messages also can be created at the Cemetery’s creative environment.

The tomb is available for the first forty days, then it is burnt at a special location in the presence of relatives and friends.

This idea came after visiting Burning Man in 2016 where I was inspired and deeply touched by a Temple concept. Within a week of the festival people bring memories to a Temple and express their love on posters, wooden bricks, bring things that connect them to their beloved ones. On the last day a Temple is burnt in absolute silence. This is a very powerful moment, which is important to live through.


I think, it is important to rethink a role of cemeteries as a place for burials, statical with strict link to a location.

Nature has everything to make cemetery beautiful — a place where everyone can pay tribute to their loved ones and share feelings. Creative energy via personalized tombs, art installations would help people change perception of death without depressed fear.

Due to the age of migrations it is important to keep memories and pay tribute no matter where a person is. Traditional tombs say few of a person. Here digital facilities have a great advantage for keeping life moments.

Life moments

The current services for creating a life story work mostly for memories and passed moments. Words as “biography”, “archive” in our time cause symptoms of naphthalenic mood and do not inspire for the next step.

Our interactions with virtual reality via search engines, social networks and other services, automatically shape our virtual clone, which will be kept for the next generations.

We’re living in an information flow, when every day something new happens and there is no time and wish to come back to the past moments and pick the best three of hundreds of pictures, if it is not a life event like wedding or birthday.

That’s why Circle of life app concept focuses on the now — the life moment that matters in the now moment — and can be easily kept for a life story. And no matter when we will check-out this life, this virtual version of us being consisted only of those moments that matter to us will remain the true version of us.

Can social networks be our story tellers?

Yes, in some way. But in social networks we share different information for different purposes. Anyway, this option can be developed within a social network.

How to make time and inspiration work for us.

​A story can be easily created in one tap.

​We’re living our life and as usually catch moments that matter to us with our smartphones — events, thoughts, moods, insights via:

  • photo,
  • video,
  • audio,
  • notes.

And share it with Circle of life app. A digital platform collects your moments and automatically creates a story with Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies. All stories will be securely kept and connected to a Museum.

An archive of moments can be also downloaded and cloud accounts can be synchronized.

You can create a book, a movie clip of this story.

Sometimes only one moment tells about a person much more than a specially made biography.

After physical death a digital tree start growing as natural.

A place of death and burial can be geo tagged with a story of life.

We are owners of our life story and it’s important to use the benefits of the virtual reality for keeping what matter to us, otherwise the virtual reality will make it for us.

Inspired by:


No matter how good smarthones and other screen devices are in inviting us to the virtual world, remembrance and paying tribute to our beloved ones via these screens can hardly convey an important contact.

In the future there could be holograms and 4D technologies for memory display. Technologies constantly propose something new, but memory creation as a result of interaction with reality is still the same.

It’s important to make the process of memory display more beautiful and respectful.

I see portable projectors, as a current solution, can take this mission. Life moments can be kept there and updated upon demand. You can gather with your friends and pay tribute to your beloved ones at the special day or make a night of it.

​Projectors can be used not only for homes, but for farewell spaces, churches, celebration of life homes.

​Inspired by: Cinemood


Museum was created as a response to our life style and challenges concerning remembrance.

Our life cycle covers two big epochs with different behaviors: analogue with rigorous selection of pictures, keeping memories and writing diaries, and digital with constantly outdated devices, multiple pictures and rapid life.

With smartphones we easily create beautiful memories and keep them in different places: laptops, social networks, cloud accounts, which need to be upgraded from time to time and sometimes there is no time no wish to do it, because every day we have a new portion of memories.

​It is important to remember a family tree, but we are living in the time of information and digital abundance. Our memory moved to Google and smartphones. Some people forget who were their ancestors and their stories that could be kept in the virtual reality. Actually our bodies keep information about our ancestors in our DNA ( is one of the examples), but not about their personalities: hobbies, interests, thoughts or something like this we want to remember rather just facts.

As digital users we leave quite enough information about ourselves — some moments that matter to us and others. We are fast moving into a time where everything we share for different purposes with a power of artificial intelligence (AI) can be analyzed and turned into virtual us — hopefully the ones we are happy with. Most probably in the future, the virtual reality will be a key in keeping our family tree.

We are the owners of our life story and it matters to have some control over it.

One more thing: those moments, that matter to us could be the only true version of us, because after death our different versions are kept in memories of those who remember us.

Why Museum

Museum gives more confidence in keeping stories forever. It is not just another app, another social network. It creates a new value of sharing a moment and has a big purpose — to keep a story and a family tree with respect, appreciate life and explore the new potential of death and life perception through the art, nature and digital medium.

It’s a right place to start a dialogue and share feelings.

Stories can be watched on digital screens and as holograms in public or private spaces. They will be geo tagged with places with the spirit of the time when a person lived. It can be a story of a beloved one — a person or a pet.

Sometimes only one moment or a favorite song can tell about a person much more than a professionally made biography.

Mission of Museum — to show the truth that every single life is unique and matters equally, where everyone is an author of his life story.

Every unit has its own mission:

  1. Communication and interaction: cafe, exhibitions for open discussion of death and life issues, planing and making a choice.
  2. Inspiration: stories for public display, art events.
  3. Knowledge: lectures, workshops.
  4. Remembrance: silent rooms, private spaces for displaying a story.
  5. Planing: innovative eco-friendly solutions, celebration of life.


The idea of the art project Death Embrace came to my mind after visiting a creative art event Burning Man in 2016. I was also inspired by two stories:

  • A dialogue with death in Palermo Shooting by Wim Wenders (a video in Russian, the English subtitles can be switched on);
  • A parable The Road to Haven or Why Death has a scythe. It’s in Russian. Here is one episode: “I used to be a beautiful lady. I met people’s souls with flowers, not a scythe, and followed them to the place where they need to be. I smiled kindly and helped them forget the past. But it was too long time ago. And now you see, how I look like.”

​The frightening death character via Memento Mori rituals worked for the main challenge of the past — to survive in massive external danger — wars, deceases, infections. The death character itself was depicted as something alien.

As a consequence of such fears and mental conflicts, in the end of the 20th century there was a growth of cancer, mental and immune deceases. So the focus of danger moved from the external to internal one. More people started to realize that the source of happiness and pain is not outside, but inside themselves.

The focus has changed, but the rituals stayed the same.

One of the powerful tools for rethinking status quo is art, which first appeals to the heart, feelings and emotions rather than to the mental analysis. Besides rethinking, a ritual and interaction are important for releasing a fear.

The art project Death Embrace shows a human natural image of death, because this is a part of everyone and a part of lifecycle.

The central element of the art statue is a heart. While embracing, the heart is pressed as a button and it gives a mutual slight hug. The embrace is a symbol of acceptance and release of fear, encrusted cliches, created by a society. It helps accept death as a natural process, which is in everyone since birth.

I would be happy connecting co-thinkers for collaborations, networking, feedback and any social activity.

Memory Garden Space

Blog posts about redesigning death and remembrance in the 21st century

Natalia Shipilova

Written by

Life and Innovation driven. Digital Strategist / Concept Developer. E:

Memory Garden Space

Blog posts about redesigning death and remembrance in the 21st century

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