Claire L. Evans
Every relationship leaves a trace.
We no longer affect one another with personal impressions; in a world of data, even the most intimate relationships are now externalized, backed up. A relationship between two fairly connected people can be drawn from data points, culled from the web, and conjured back to life from ones and zeroes. Now that we hold the quantifiable burden of memory with us all of the time, however, it's increasingly difficult to disconnect. Ending romantic engagements, breaking up with friends, avoiding a sworn enemy: these are all antithetical to the industry of our sprawling social networks. Facebook softens personal ruptures by allowing users to simply "hide" an individual from your "timeline," rather than deliberately sever connections. The network wants to keep us connected. It is built for it. The web voraciously holds onto our memories, even when we want to let go.
Introducing RESTORE FROM BACKUP, a service for precisely this problem. With RFB, a relationship can be completely excised from the web and all the data contained in a physical object of the customer's design. If you could remove every single trace of your relationship with someone from the internet, gather all that information into one place, and turn it into an object, what would you do with that object? Would you hold it in your hands, feel its depth and weight, and summon from a patchwork of sensory and fallible recollections your ever-shifting, foggy and surreal memories of the person?
Or would you destroy it?
RESTORE FROM BACKUP is a design fiction presentation, a pitch for a speculative service which would restore relationships to what they once were: largely felt experiences.
Claire L. Evans is a writer and artist working in Los Angeles, California. Her "day job" is as the singer and co-author of the conceptual multimedia disco-pop band YACHT, which recently released its fifth album, "Shangri-La", on DFA Records. A science journalist - her blog, Universe, which addresses the synchronies between art, science, technology, and the cultural world, was recently selected for Open Lab's 2011 anthology of best science writing on the web - and science-fictional thinker, she regularly participates in panels and screenings on the subject of science and culture. She has performed earnestly cosmic presentations at the Kitchen and MoMA PS1, spoken about extraterrestrial life at the Rubin Museum's BRAINWAVE series, and co-authored a book on interdisciplinarity in the arts, NA/SA: New Art Science Affinities.