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Storied Artifacts Nested
in the Stars


Jean-Sebastien Villa
June 3, 2016

Storied Artifacts Nested <br> in the Stars

The NEST project started in 2012 in Belfast, Ireland by composer Brian Irvine and filmmaker John McIlduff. The concept was simple. Collect and display objects with personal stories and memories online, and pair these pieces with orchestral and choral composed music. Each item submitted was to be photographed and uploaded, along with its anecdote. This form of communication harkened back to a simpler time, where storytelling thrived by conveying emotions through artifacts and narrations. After a few years, the project opened to the world. People from all around the globe are now able to contribute to the ever-growing nest by sending images of their favorite artifacts and what they mean to them. Because of NEST’s wonderful concept and site design we have decided to feature it as our site of the week.

When visiting NEST, the user is immediately acquainted with the intent of the project – to reveal the hidden souls of objects. The ambient music in the background provides a multisensory experience. After a quick transition, the name of the project is displayed in the middle of the page, centered in a circle chart. Each arc of the chart represents a category of stories. The diagram is laid on a night sky background filled with stars, each of them illustrating the narrative of a specific artifact.

The navigation is incredible smooth and interactive. Hovering over a specific star displays a short sentence giving us a background story of a potential object. By clicking on of them, we are suddenly transported in NEST’s universe. At the end of the journey, we land on a constellation. Maximizing the interactivity of the project, we are then asked to join the dots of group of stars to reveal the story of a specific object. After completion, a picture of the artifact is unveiled to us along with its history. We are allowed for a moment to enter the intimacy of the relationship between an item and its owner. Happy memories are shared with us. We are told about love, friendship and new beginnings. We are also presented the fragility of life when donors share how certain items remind them of the people they lost. NEST proves us that artifacts are just not things, they are a transposition of who we are as human beings embedded with our stories.  

The NEST website is a magnificent rendition of how meaningful digital experience can be achieved. Oftentimes, new technologies, by their very nature of being efficient are cold and deprived of significance leaving little room for personal narratives. Thousands of stars comprise the galaxy of the NEST. Each white dot in the immensity of the project embodies an item and its value to a specific individual and that’s the epitome of meaningfulness.