Monument proposal to be placed in Friendship Park in Belgrade, Serbia
This project was to create a monument which was to be placed between several other monuments in and around Friendship Park. The monument I was to create had to reconcile with Serbia's complex past of empire, genocide, oppression by the US, and active erasing of the Serbian identity after the rise and fall of Yugoslavia. The new monument needed to speak to the other monuments and form a new identity for the people in Belgrade.
3 elements were created for this project:
A set of digital renderings made using SketchUp
A architectural model of the park
With Arduino lighting to demonstrate the pulsing lights after sunset
A prototype of one of the cubes
Using mirror Mylar film on acrylic and networked Android phones running OpenCV which display a photo when picked up and take a picture once they find a face
This was a group project. I was responsible for renderings, the box prototype, and as a group we created the physical architectural model and came up with the design.
Integrating with other Monuments
The Museum of the Revolution of Yugoslav People was founded by the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia. The Museum was planned to open at the 40th anniversary of the Revolution, but it was never finished. The structure was abandoned, and its underground parking lot has become a haven the homeless.
A new monument, the Dial, will take the place of the unfinished Museum, placed near the Eternal Flame. The Eternal Flame, located at the center of the Friendship Park, was created to commemorate the victims of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The monument holds symbolic importance, signifying the spirit of the nation in the face of external threat. The trees planted near the Eternal Flame are marked with the names of the great leaders of Yugoslavia and its states. The center of the Dial is a circular building built to emphasize unity and resembles an hourglass to emphasize the role of time and the changing nature of unity. Located in Friendship Park, New Belgrade, the Dial reaffirms the desire to work toward peaceful coexistence. It places importance on seeking a brighter, peaceful future while also acknowledging the nation's dark past.
The conflict between the Albanians and Kosovo Serbs remains today a point of political, cultural, ethnic, and religious tension. Genocide, protests, discrimination, and violence, along with the NATO bombing casualties reflect dark times for Yugoslavia. The needles placed outside the Dial’s central building represent this painful past and the atrocities committed in Yugoslavia, but are mitigated by the union of the needles, connected together by strings of lights. Seen from above, the nineteen needles form a map of the nineteen monuments created across Serbia during Tito's presidency. The needles connect the entire nation together and tie them to the central building placed over Belgrade on the imagined map. The conflicting pride and pain represented by the needles reflect the complex history for the nation and its tumultuous transition from Yugoslavia to Serbia.
Additionally, numerous reflective cubes are scattered throughout the needle network. As the day ends, the cubes, needles, and strings light up, encouraging visitors to walk through the park and pick up the cubes. After sunset, the strings and cubes light up in pulsing waves emanating outwards from the central building. After 528 pulses, the number of individuals killed during the NATO bombing of the USCE center, the entire array darkens for the night.
Where the needles represent points in space and in history, the cubes then represents individuals - these cubes can be picked up and moved throughout the park, but no matter where they end up, they are still park of the whole and networked together, sharing in the identity of the nation.
At sunset, the building itself rotates upward, which allows the people who are inside the building to view the lights and layout of the needles and cubes more clearly against the backdrop of the sunset. From outside, the hidden pillar slowly reveals itself and its glowing coloring which matches the sunset. As this happens, the cubes and needles begin to pulse with light.
During the day, each cube is designed to be picked up by park visitors. As cubes are picked up, they display the face of someone else who had previously visited them park. While being viewed, the cube takes a picture of the new visitor, sharing it with the other cubes. Future visitors to the park might then see this individuals face among the numerous others. In this way, bit by bit, an identity forms; built up by the inhabitants and visitors of the region.
Model and Prototype
Prototype networked Android phones together and used OpenCV and internal gyroscope to detect when a cube was picked up, and to determine when to take a photo (when a face is detected). This worked well in low lighting as the screen served as a weak flash for the photo. Each photo that was taken was shared between the other Android devices.