WTC Memorial: We're All Designers Now

That could be the sub-title of this site, really. I made Souvenir (November 2001), in part, to ask what could New York be like in 80 years, after the generation of us who experienced the attacks are all gone. How would the as-yet unborn people then and there remember us here and now? I should clarify: us=those who experienced (ie, died, survived, rescued, ran, watched, etc.). And already, in less than two years, here and now is becoming then and there.

Now, (tens of? hundreds of?) thousands of designs for the WTC Memorial will start pouring in, invariably affected by the intervening events, mourning, healing, revenge, renewal, bitterness, anger, loss, politics, war, protest, obfuscation, certainties and uncertainties. Although Rules have been set, but not in stone: submitters should feel free to "go where their imaginations, where their mourning needs to take them." On the LMDC's registration information site, the only surprise is that they're not accepting Paypal.

WWI itself changed the memorial game. For the first time, it was not just the generals and heros, but the average soldier--the individual, not an abstracted symbol--was to be memorialized and remembered. Metal dogtags were a standardized response to the sheer numbers of the Missing in WWI. Like the Thiepval Memorial, the object of two New Yorkers' search in S(N01), the WTC Memorial will also serve as a grave-by-proxy for the hundreds whose remains were never identified.

Due in part to an overly individual-centric reading of the Viet Nam Memorial's personal/collective experience, the focus of memorial designs in Oklahoma City and the Pentagon is almost wholly on the lost individual and "achieving closure." And now, the individual is designing the memorial. Maybe if designing is such an effective way to meet our memorializing needs, we should just set up a perpetual workshop on the site. Of course, what would that look like to people 80 years from now?

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

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first published: April 29, 2003.

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