GOOD

Holocaust Survivors Turn to Holograms to Preserve Their Stories

A new initiative ensures future generations will have the opportunity to interact with an important piece of history.

image via youtube screen capture

I remember the first time I saw Henry’s arm. I was in grade school, and he was in his late 70’s. My teacher had invited Henry to our class so we could hear, first hand, his story of horror and survival, of hardship and liberation. We sat in a circle on the floor while Henry described how, as a young Jew in Berlin, he’d been rounded up and sent to Auschwitz, where he endured terrors our developing minds could only begin to understand. What we could understand, though, were the faint blue digits etched into his arm, which he showed us, one by one, when he’d finished speaking. The numbers, he explained, were a reminder of how low people could sink, as well as how high they could climb afterwards.


It remains a tremendously powerful moment in my life. It’s a type of moment, I fear, that will be lost forever as the last generation of Holocaust survivors begins to pass away. But thanks to a team from the University of Southern California, the testimonies of survivors like Henry will be preserved in a wholly unexpected medium: Interactive Holograms.

image via youtube screen capture

New Dimensions in Testimony (NDT) is a project of the USC Institute of Creative Technologies in partnership with the USC Shoah Foundation, and Conscience Display. Using advanced image capturing technology, NDT records survivors sharing both their personal narrative, as well as answering questions, just as they would if they were speaking about their experience to a live audience. The project then transforms that testimony into a holographic presentation that can be projected without necessitating the use of 3D-glasses. The presentation is programmed to be interactive, with questions posed to the hologram triggering keyword-prompted, pre-recorded responses. The result is as stunningly lifelike as is technologically possible, and affords survivors the opportunity to continue sharing their experiences long after they’ve passed.

The NDT website explains:

The goal is to develop interactive 3-D exhibits in which learners can have simulated, educational conversations with survivors though the fourth dimension of time. Years from now, long after the last survivor has passed on, the New Dimensions in Testimony project can provide a path to enable young people to listen to a survivor and ask their own questions directly, encouraging them, each in their own way, to reflect on the deep and meaningful consequences of the Holocaust.

To achieve this incredible effect, USA Today reports, participants are filmed by over 50 cameras situated around them as they sit in front of a green screen. Programmers then render the participants based on seven different lighting conditions, as part of the holographic process.

While holograms are, by their very nature, an intangible approximation of the real thing, it’s heartening to know that long after those who remember the horrors of the Holocaust have left us, the charge to “Never Forget” will continue for generations to come.

[via Smithsonianmag.com]

Articles
Photo by Josh Couch on Unsplash

Christopher Columbus, Alexander Hamilton, William Shakespeare, and Sir Walter Scott are getting company. Statues of the famous men are scattered across Central Park in New York City, along with 19 others. But they'll finally be joined by a few women.

Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth are the subjects of a new statue that will be on display along The Mall, a walkway that runs through the park from 66th to 72nd street. It will be dedicated in August of next year, which is fittingly the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote.

Currently, just 3% of statues in New York City are dedicated to women. Out of 150 statues of historical figures across the city, only five statues are of historical women, including Joan of Arc, Golda Meir, Gertrude Stein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Harriet Tubman.

Keep Reading Show less
promo-homepage

It's easy to become calloused to everyday headlines with messages like, "the world is ending" and "everything is going extinct." They're so prevalent, in fact, that the severity of these statements has completely diminished to the point that no one pays them any attention. This environmental negativity (coined "eco-phobia") has led us to believe that all hope is lost for wildlife. But luckily, that isn't the case.

Historically, we have waited until something is near the complete point of collapse, then fought and clawed to bring the species numbers back up. But oftentimes we wait so long that it's too late. Creatures vanish from the Earth altogether. They go extinct. And even though I don't think for a single second that we should downplay the severity of extinction, if we can flip this on its head and show that every once in a while a species we have given up on is actually still out there, hanging on by a thread against all odds, that is a story that deserves to be told. A tragic story of loss becomes one about an animal that deserves a shot at preservation and a message of hope the world deserves to hear.

As a wildlife biologist and tracker who has dedicated his life to the pursuit of animals I believe have been wrongfully deemed extinct, I spend most of my time in super remote corners of the Earth, hoping to find some shred of evidence that these incredible creatures are still out there. And to be frank, I'm pretty damn good at it!

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
NHM Vienna/Hans Reschreiter

Wealth inequality has been a hot topic of discussion as of late, but it's something that's occurred all throughout history. Class structure is a complicated issue, especially when you consider that haves and have nots have been in existence for over 4,000 years.

A study published in Science took a look at over 100 late Neolithic and early Bronze Age skeletons found in a burial site in southern Germany. The study "shed light on the complexity of social status, inheritance rules, and mobility during the Bronze Age." Partly by looking at their teeth and the artifacts they were buried with, researchers were able to discover that wealth inequality existed almost 4,000 years ago. "Our results reveal that individual households lasting several generations consisted of a high-status core family and unrelated low-status individuals, a social organization accompanied by patrilocality and female exogamy, and the stability of this system over 700 years," the study said.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Truthout.org / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics