“Dead Miffy”, Lilo Boerman
“Queen Elisabeth Memorial”, Maarten Meij
“Medusa Memorial”, Vincent Rehberger
“Beyoncé in the Destiny’s Child Era Memorial”, Michelle Janssen
“Bugs Bunny Memorial”, Merel Schermer
“Memorial For The Fish I Never Had”, Ruben Visser
“MSN Memorial” Lieke de Wit
“Web Is Dead”, Martin Menso
“Barbie Memorial”, Laura Brauwer
“Spaghetti Monster Memorial”, Zack Dimitrov
“Grumpy Cat Memorial”, Joëlle Scholten
“Dead Memes”, Matteo Pellegrini
“David Bowie Memorial”, Nicoletta Radice
“Eazy E Memorial”, Edward July
“Ren’s Obituary”, Nedislav Kamburov
“Tom, our first mutual friend”, Anna Moschioni
“Andy Whitfield”, Pepijn de Jonge
A 19-year-old student fell to her death from the top of a 20-story apartment building in Manila, Philippines, while taking a selfie. According to her classmate, “she was not satisfied with the photos they had taken so she decided to climb up the parapet wall”.
Abhishek Gupta, age 20, fell to his death while taking a selfie from the top of the Reasi Fort at Jammu and Kashmir, India.
A 20-year-old college girl named Tarannum drowned at Bandstand Promenade in Bandra, Mumbai. She is believed to have been swept away in the high tide. According to the girl’s friends, they were taking selfies, standing on the rock, close to the Bandra-Worli Sea Link (BWSL). “The girls were standing 50 metres away from the shore when the water suddenly rose. They did not notice water rising and remained on the rock taking pictures (selfies). One of the girls was pulled into the water due to high tide.”
A 16-year-old boy was killed by a passenger train while taking a selfie with an approaching train in Chennai, India. “The teen reportedly walked in front of the train and waited for it to come closer before taking the photo.”
A college student drowned after falling off of the Waldevi Dam in Nashik, India, while taking a selfie.
Three students of Mandya Institute of Medical Sciences drowned after falling in an irrigation canal in Hulivana village, 180 km from Bengaluru, India, reportedly while they were taking selfies.
A 43-year-old man in Concrete, Washington, accidentally shot himself in the face with a gun and died while taking a selfie. He thought the gun was unloaded.
A 30-year-old man fell off Lion Rock in Hong Kong and died while taking a selfie.
A 16-year-old Manjeet Chowdhary climbed a rock fountain at a zoo in Hyderabad, India, apparently to take a selfie. He slipped, fell into the water and may have hit his head on a rock. He was taken to hospital where his death was recorded.
Two youths were run over by a train while taking selfies on the railway tracks at Purushottampur railway crossing in Chunar area in Mirzapur district in Uttar Pradesh, India.
A 16-year-old boy died while taking a selfie at a railway crossing in Saharanpur, a town in Uttar Pradesh, India.
While taking a selfie, a 25-year-old youth fell off the Dolphin Nose cliff near Vattakanal village, situated eight km from the Kodaikanal Lake, Tamil Nadu, India.
A 15-year-old boy from Pathankot, India, died after he accidentally shot himself with his father’s revolver while taking a selfie with the gun pointed at his head.
A Chinese businessman, at a local wildlife park in the city of Rongcheng, Shangdong province, was drowned by a walrus after taking several selfies and videos with the animal. A zookeeper was also drowned in the same incident after attempting to save the man.
An 18-year-old boy drowned in the Ganges river while taking a selfie after bathing with his mother and a friend in Nabadwip of West Bengal state in India.
A 15-year-old boy, from Overland, Missouri accidentally shot and killed himself while attempting to take a selfie at home posing with his father’s gun.
A 23-year-old fell into the water and drowned at Sindhrot check dam near Vadodara, India, while taking a selfie. His friend Bharat Parmar jumped into the water to save him, he also drowned.
Seven people were swept away and drowned to death while taking a selfie in the river Ganges in Kanpur, Uttarpradesh, India. According to a police official, they had gone for a picnic at Kanpur Ganga Barrage when one of the party tried to take a selfie by standing on the edge of the barrage and tripped and fell into the Ganges. The river was already in spate due to rains in the region. The six others, in an attempt to save him, jumped into the river but were themselves swept away by the current.
A 28-year-old South Korean tourist plunged 1600 feet off a cliff at Gocta waterfall in the Amazonas Region of Peru. He was attempting to take a picture of himself. Divers and mountain rescue teams were brought in to recover the body submerged more than 20-feet underwater at the base of the falls.
A 51-year-old German tourist visiting Machu Picchu in Peru, fell 130 feet to his death after he lost his footing while leaping into the air for a “flying selfie”.
A 21-year-old South African woman died after falling from Northcliff Hill, Johannesburg, as a male companion was setting up a tripod for a selfie. Reports vary as to the identity of the companion.
Two young men died in the Ural mountains after they pulled the pin from a live hand grenade to take a selfie. The phone with the picture remained as evidence of the circumstance of their deaths.
Three Indian students aged 20 to 22 died trying to take a “daredevil selfie” close to an oncoming train on railway tracks of Mathura, near Kosikala.
Seven Indian youths drowned while taking selfies on Mangrul Lake near Kuhi, about 20 km from Nagpur, India. Their boat had tipped over as they were standing up to pose.
An 18-year-old Romanian teenager died when she attempted to take the “ultimate selfie”, posing with a friend on top of a train in the north-eastern Romanian city of Iași when her leg touched a live wire above which electrocuted her with 27,000 volts.
A teenager climbed on a railway bridge in the Ryazan region in Russia to take a selfie and died when he came in contact with live wires.
A 21-year-old man from Yogyakarta, Indonesia, fell into the crater of Mount Merapi and died while attempting to take a selfie.
A Singaporean tourist died after falling into the sea while taking a selfie on a cliff in Nusa Lembongan, an island off the coast of Bali, Indonesia.
A 54-year-old Slovak tourist visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia fell to her death from a rock while taking a selfie.
A 21-year-old Russian university graduate died after falling from a bridge while she was trying to take a memorable selfie next to the Moscow International Business Center.
A man was gored to death in the annual bull-running festival in the town of Villaseca de la Sagra, Spain, trying to take a selfie with a bull.
A 19-year-old from Houston died after trying to take an Instagram selfie while holding a loaded gun to his head. He accidentally fired the gun and shot himself in the throat.
A Japanese tourist fell down a staircase to his death while taking a selfie at the Taj Mahal, Agra, India.
A 17-year-old Russian student fell to his death attempting to take a selfie while hanging from a nine-story building.
An Indian engineering student died while taking selfies with friends at Kolli Hills, Namakkal, Tamil Nadu, India, when the rock on which he was standing cracked and gave way, plunging him 60 feet and causing his death from head injuries.
Two engineering students of Wadhwan, Gujarat, India, drowned in Narmada Canal after slipping down the bank while taking selfies.
BA first-year student of the Kalyani Mahavidyalaya College Sourav Dey died and another was critically injured in the Kalyani area in Nadia district of West Bengal, India as they were run over by a train while they were taking selfies.
A 14-year-old, Sahil C. Eshwarkar, who was trying to take a selfie atop a stationary train wagon at Nahur station yard in Mumbai, India, was electrocuted and died a few hours later. He accidentally came in contact with a 25,000-volt overhead electrical wire and was electrocuted, suffering 80 per cent burns.
A 22-year-old man, the son of a railway employee of Rawalpindi, Pakistan, died while attempting to take a selfie while standing on the track in front of a moving train.
A 21-year-old Spanish man died from electrocution after climbing on top of a train to take a selfie with friends and touching a wire that (contrary to the assumptions of the group) turned out to be live.
A 17-year-old Russian amateur photographer climbed atop a railway bridge in Saint Petersburg to take a selfie. She lost her balance and fell to her death.
A 32-year-old woman from North Carolina collided with a truck moments after posting selfies of herself online.
A Puerto Rican musician died in an accident shortly after taking a selfie on his motorbike. He had previously released a track entitled, “Me Descontrolo” (“I lose control”).
In the United States, the pilot of a Cessna 150K and his passenger were killed when the pilot was distracted taking selfies and lost control of the plane.
In Kerala, India, a 15-year-old boy was killed by a speeding train while posing for a selfie on the track.
A 16-year-old girl died in Italy after plunging 60 feet while she was trying to take a photograph of herself on the seafront during a school trip to the seaside town of Taranto.
A 14-year-old high school student in the Philippines fell to her death after losing her balance while taking a selfie with a friend near a staircase landing of their school in suburban Pasig. According to doctors, she sustained a sharp blow to the head from the fall and broke a rib which pierced a kidney.
A 21-year-old Mexican veterinarian, who had been drinking, pointed a gun to his temple for a selfie and fired a shot, killing himself.
A Polish couple fell to their death off a cliff in Portugal after crossing a safety barrier to take a selfie with their children.
In Kerala, India, a 14-year-old boy was electrocuted while attempting to take a selfie on top of a stationary train.
An 18-year-old woman drowned in the Philippines after posing for a group selfie on a beach with friends and being captured by a strong wave.
A 23-year-old student from Poland fell to her death while trying to take a selfie on the ledge of the Puente de Triana in Seville, Spain.
When a digital life that may have long existed without a physical presence comes to an end, what should memorialisation look like? Memorials for bodily death often invoke simulacra of the human form – the cold faces of the death mask, post-mortem photograph or gravestone photograph. Else they push the body away entirely, covering corporeal remains with inscribed monoliths of stone.
The consumer side of the digital world is catching up. Facebook terms of conditions recently changed twice to make it easier and faster to delete an account of someone deceased. The first change included a specific request, a form, which was required in order to to delete the account of a deceased person. Part of this form required uploading “proof”’ of the person’s death – either in the form of an obituary or a death certificate. In the case of Rusty Foster this led to an accidental Facebook death in 2013 after he was mistakenly declared to Facebook as being deceased. However, it transpired that he merely had the same name as another user who had died in 2011 and the uploading of this earlier user’s obituary to the site had triggered a series of algorithmic events that conspired to digitally kill Foster. Luckily, Foster was allowed to be resurrected a few days later but this did highlight the potential of Facebook to be used as a platform for digital assassination.
As likes, posts, and any other behaviours or actions on Facebook are designated as the truth within the Facebook philosophical universe, these truths are then used to generate personalised advertising and data collection in aid of adding layers to our virtual identities. Thus, initiating one’s own death on Facebook naturally disrupts this system. A second, more recent, change in policy means that Facebook now requests a death certificate in order to corroborate reports of physical death necessitating the digital.
Death on Facebook takes one of two major forms – crystallization-type death or deletion type death. The decendent’s page either remains frozen in time and impervious to new communication and developments, or disappears into the digital ether. Other online social services lag further behind, keeping landing pages either as neglected husks, prey to spam and malware infiltration, or delete them altogether. If your Twitter contacts have begun to take strange amounts of interest in body-building or questionable diet supplements, their physical bodies may be suffering more than you anticipate.
Digital death calls for a form of memorialisation that reflects what is lost – algorithmic interaction, cryptocurrency, sponsored promotion, P2P contributions and cloud accounting. In the following pages we look towards developing a new visual language for death in the network. Current options ape physical settings of grief, from mourning pages where gifs and blingees of bouquets are left to communal cemetery-like sites that inter the digitally dead in neat cyber-rows, ready for visitors. In recognising that digital death is separate to physical death, we anticipate the necessity of designing for this separately. We owe the dead more than skeuomorphs can give them.
Lives that are increasingly lived online call for a new structure of dying and death. Digital and physical deaths need to be concurrent, and our physical bodies and digital lives can end discretely based on financial and existential needs. Already-existing technologies allow digital lives to grow and subsist through scheduled posting, keyword interactions and automated search engine optimisation. The physically dead can go on living: endorsing sponsored products as their bodies decay. But when a digital life that may have long existed without a physical presence comes to an end, what should memorialisation look like? Memorials for bodily death often invoke simulacra of the human form – the cold faces of death mask, post mortem photograph or gravestone photograph. Else they push the body away entirely, covering corporeal remains with inscribed monoliths of stone. Digital death calls for a form of memorialisation that reflects what is lost – algorithmic interaction, cryptocurrency, sponsored promotion, P2P contributions and cloud accounting. Still the memory of the physical lingers, entombed in digital architecture.
Digital Necropolis is initiated by Dr. Emily West (PhD medicine) and designer S†ëfan Schäfer.
Oscillating between facts, myths and fiction, “i am become digital death, the destroyer of worlds” gives an insight in the curiosities, and up- and downsides of digital afterlives, taking an imaginative approach to promote new forms of memorialisation, mourning rituals and death symbols deriving from the digital domain; and appearing in both, digital and physical forms.
26,5 cm x 19 cm, 192 pages, full color. You can order the book via email link on top of this page.