When you’re gone, how will you be remembered?
By stories. Over the top, surprising, poignant stories, told by the people who really knew us. Stories about things future generations will only be able to guess at as they flip through old letters, photo albums and digital video clips.
Now imagine pairing pictures of memories with the stories: can you imagine how powerful that can be? Not only will we glean how much we have in common with Grandpa Paul or Aunt Eva … but also how much we’d like to be just like them one day.
Not even a first person memoir can produce the kind of honesty you’ll hear in an oral history made with family or friends.
REMEMBER ME personal histories exist purely to fill this niche: an art book to fully realize one person before they are gone from collective memory. The idea is to retell their stories in visualized parables. Like on any good odyssey, life lessons come alive in these stories because they contain both the highs and lows from the subject’s personal history – for isn’t it a fact that we learn as much from our struggles as from our successes?
In their most robust form, REMEMBER ME personal histories allow the next generation to study the precious bits and pieces that make up a life. Each coffee table book pays homage to the subject’s most heartfelt wishes, desires or dreams, whether they came to fruition or not. Each personal history is organized by decade, pairing oral histories (personally conducted, recorded, transcribed and edited by me) with fine art digital photomontages of memories I call Legacy Dreamscapes (custom-created by me). Now, how would you like to turn the pages of “Remember Me, Vitaly”?
Read an Excerpt
Vitaly’s son, Anatole describes the story that drives the storytelling Dreamscape I created for his fourth decade and the book’s cover:
“In 1960, when Vitaly was 43, there was a faint possibility that you could sign up – with great difficulty – for a tour to go abroad. The tour being offered was a cruise along the Danube River visiting six countries: Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and, the almost unthinkable, a day in capitalist Vienna. The tour was expensive, but that was not the main difficulty – the party committee had to approve your participation. And, of course, your family had to stay behind as hostages. The first time he applied, he was grilled by the party committee and was turned down. But the second time, in 1961, miraculously, he was approved. He was told to acquire a black suit for the Vienna Opera. I still remember it being custom made for him since there were no black suits in stores. He put all his savings into this trip.”
Like still pictures which don’t stand still, each Legacy Dreamscape gives us a sense of how our subject must have seen the world. In Vitaly’s Dreamscape we see at once what it must have felt like to discover capitalist Vienna as a Soviet citizen: the grandiosity of his first Austrian castle; the churning waters and seagulls of the Danube; standing at the helm of his Soviet-approved cruise ship. The oral history on the facing page by Vitaly’s son, Anatole gives us the unabridged backstory for the Dreamscape. Ultimately, what REMEMBER ME books provide the next generation is the self-knowledge that one’s choices, commitments and passions are, in many ways, informed by, or set into motion by the decisions and character of those who come before us …
Each coffee table-sized book includes:
1. Genealogical elements
- Timelines (marking key historical or personal events, and to provide geographical context) and/or
- A Family Tree (names, descriptor, dates of birth and death)
2. Oral History (interviews with family members, longtime friends and business associates or the subject him/herself)
I personally conduct, record, transcribe and edit the interview. Interviewees are asked to come up with an iconic anecdote for every decade of the subject’s life which fits the precise word count. Stories are generally those which were personally experienced or witnessed.
3. Fine Art Digital Photomontages (or “Legacy Dreamscapes”)
I custom-create the Legacy Dreamscape to fit the story. My challenge as a digital artist is to conjure up distant memories with as much artistry and realism as possible, using whatever photos or artifacts are still in your possession or in the public domain. For example: I might swap in a compost bin from 20th century New England for a garbage bin from post-revolutionary Russia if you and I find they look similar enough.
Sleight of hand is accomplished not only with scenery and objects but also with body photo reconstruction. For example: when cropping eliminates the lower half of a photograph, I will search for a comparable body, piece of landscape or a similar object from other photographs from the same time period or from the recent past.
4. Guest Book Sign-in Pages (where readers or owners of their REMEMBER ME book can date and leave comments in their own handwriting)
- stating their relationship to the subject and what they have in common
- adding their impressions, insights or alternative versions of a story
As luxe coffee table books, REMEMBER ME personal histories are artistic heirlooms which ensure that as families, we fight forgetfulness and one-sidedness. They have important moral objectives, as well:
- To give readers the unshakeable feeling that they are seeing aspects of themselves in the subject’s character
- To remind future generations that failure is an open door and that there are many life lessons that can be drawn from these pages
Process. In our first consultation (in person, by phone or by Skype), we’ll go over all relevant materials. Anything at all can be included in a REMEMBER ME Legacy Dreamscape, so long as it is photograph-able or scan-able. Most importantly, I will conduct interviews with friends, family and colleagues to capture memorable soundbites that would never surface unless a trained memory artist popped the question.
Pricing depends on the number of stories/decades to be included, which alters the number of recorded and transcribed interviews (for the oral history portion), and the number of digital photomontages (Legacy Dreamscapes) created for those sections.
Specifications for a 36-page book with (8) stories are as follows: (one) 12 x 9 in. book in landscape orientation with sewn binding • a full color, glossy laminate image wrap on the front and back cover • choice of solid or patterned end papers • 120# text weight satin-coated pages • Family Tree and/or milestones and historical events laid out in a Timeline • eight (8) digital photomontages • eight (8) 2-hour interviews (recorded, transcribed and edited) • Guest Book sign in pages • presented inside a black book wrap with a button and string closure
In addition, you become owners of the original artwork (the Legacy Dreamscapes) in the form of digital files that can be enlarged for framing, or uploaded to sites that specialize in photo gifts to wear or display.
Reserve my time now for creating your custom REMEMBER ME book by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org/staging or calling 773-255-4677 (EST).