Design, Symbolism, and Memory

I haven’t been discussing visual culture issues much on Worn Through lately, as I’ve been sticking strictly to dress, however, living in the Twin Cities, right by the site of the 35W bridge collapse has been very eye opening in terms of the meaning of design. So I thought it was relevant to WT this time.

The symbolism of the area has been rich, from the bridge to the aftermath to the rebuild project to the current discussions of memorials, which reached a fever pitch this week as we’ve hit the one year anniversary of the disaster. It made me think about a Visual Culture course I took last year in which we actively discussed the relationship of of design, meaning, and memory, and I did a photo essay for class of many of the national sites I’ve been to including a wide variety of memorials. The local media has been getting an array of people to discuss what the memorial should be like and how to visually and tactily represent that event and those people. In class we read a really interesting piece about Maya Lin’s challenges when developing the Vietnam War Memorial by Marita Sturken entitled The Wall, The Screen, and the Image: The Vietnam War Memorial which is from the Visual Culture Reader (1998).

The new bridge is set to open this fall after a year of poeple working 24/7 to restore it. Some say the symbolic nature of the new bridge, its shape, and the speed in which it went up is a memorial in and of itself. But it will be very intersting to see how things develop over time when plans are put into motion regarding a design specifically to conceived to landmark the event.

So below I’ve included a small handful of pictures I have taken of some of the memorial sites I’ve visited. I’ve actually got tons of images from all over the country, but I just included a few as examples. Of course a noted difference with the following two examples is that they were not “natural” or “accidents” as the 35W bridge collapse is considered, and so design considerations for these memorials may reflect different ideas.-Monica

Oklahoma City bombing site:

The site of JFK’s assasignation and the Texas Book Depository which is now a museum (yes it’s weird I’m smiling near the x but I stood there sort of to show perspective that the x is just part of the scenery now):

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