Digital Death: The Materiality of Co-crafted Legacies

Pitsillides, Stacey. 2017. Digital Death: The Materiality of Co-crafted Legacies. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (Digital Death: The Materiality of Co-crafted Legacies)
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Abstract or Description

Our relationship to death is changing. The prevalence of death and dying online has created new ways of understanding those we have lost. This includes the diversification of aesthetics traditionally associated with mortality. Online environments have provided new opportunities for interacting with the dead, putting the theory of continuing bonds into practice but also creating a data boom that is an overwhelming digital legacy. The question of how we can make meaning from the things left behind will explore the entanglement of people with data, documents, traces, things, collections and archives both online and in our homes. This develops an understanding of materiality that considers the digital as a unique material, incorporating the affordances of digitality into our experiences of personal collections. It uses crafting, narrative and curation to draw these collections together, offering a plurality of experiences and aesthetics.

In association with The Hospice of St Francis, this research uses co-design as a methodology for constructing three unique collaborations between the bereaved, a creative practitioner (art therapist or designer) and the collection itself. These collaborations create an emergent process for exploring the qualities of inherited things. The co-design process informs the use of materials and concepts, with the aim of creating meaningful artefacts for exhibiting. The participants are able to steer the overall direction and focus of this practice research from the first session, narrating the collection to the final construction of crafted responses. It follows through into the public exhibition where the use of language, curation and aesthetics are developed collaboratively. This research can be applied to hospices developing a creative and digital agenda, in addition to public engagement through the collaborative exhibition. It also has strong relevance to the fields of art therapy and co-design, bringing them into conversation and sharing methods.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

Additional Information:

This is an edited version of the thesis with third-party copyright material removed.


Digital Death, Things, Collection, Archive, Bereavement, Ethics, Co-Design

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



30 November 2017

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Date Deposited:

22 Feb 2018 13:03

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:13


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