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A short film about digital afterlife, presenting an analogy with biological organisms and the idea of replicating code

THE FILM -ANALOGY This short film explains the issue of digital afterlife by comparing it with processes similar to biological organisms. It presents the analogy that similar to biological immortality, where the organism such as bacteria can go on to live forever (if optimum conditions are maintained) by replicating themselves and forming colonies, we are also replicating our identity by uplocading digital cells and creating a digital DNA. Bacteria reproduce through a process known as Binary Fission, where one cell divides into two, we are also replicating our identity twice or more depending on how active we are online. It is not very easy to gather an exact number of how many times our digital code divides because of the open and huge structure of the World Wide Web. The film compares biological and digital processes to map out similarities and speculate what may happen in the future if the digital universe is performing like a bilogical process such as a recombined digital code. The idea of replicating code and in specific digital code has been explored by George Dyson who said, ‘there’s no reason life won’t use the self-replicating abilities of digital code, and that’s what’s happening.’ The visual experience of the film is like a laboratory experiment report, such that the structure of the film fllows in the same way as how experiment reports are written. The first part of the film is an explanation of the experiment method and investigating question, followed by an analogy and results of the experiment. The symbols, diagrams and 3D models are how they would be shown in a science book or video. To make the viewer understand the in-depth nature of this analogy I have incorporated microscopic, grainy, fuzzy images and negatives to suggest the viewer to study the concept further than the surface level. Initially, when scientists were trying to dicover the structure of the cell, the first point of reference was a bubble, therefore I have used bubbles to provide a visual imagery for cells.

The latter parts of the film, loop back on how a biological process is influenced by the digital, where as the analogy is mainly about tehnological process acting like biological. Hence, the final part of the film shows images of bacterial growth on agar plates, these are samples taken from different areas to visually represent the amount of online data (digital cells) stored and shared in different servers such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

THE PROPOSAL The Virtual Hereafter is a piece of critical design in the form of a short film that explores the topic of online activity and digital immortalilty. All of the activities and interactions in the digital environment are recorded, which is known as the digital footprint. This data is stored in the cloud and can be used by others because there is unclarity about ownership of digital content. This is an important issue today because of the amount of data we are storing online. Life after death has been explored by religion, science, art and metaphysics. In most cultures, there is a strong belief that the same individual who lived and died continues to have new experiences. ‘Some belief systems, such as those in the Abrahamic tradition,

hold that the dead go to a specific plane of existence after death, as determined by a god, gods, or other divine judgment, based on their actions or beliefs during life. Science explains that everything is made up of natural elements, the big bang is held responsible for the creation of everything and at the end of life, the human body will be absorbed back into the system. Technological advances such as cryonics have allowed the freezing of the body in the hope of restoring it to life after death. Architecture and memorabilia have an important relationship with death and leaving a trace behind. There are three main issues concerned with digital after life: preserving useful information for the future, providing escape such as grieving and control such as legal issues and authorship.

Digital cell replicated twice or more and stored in different data storage systems.

Packets put together



This forms the digital DNA

0101110010 1010001101

0101110010 1010001101

0101110010 1010001101



010111001010110 101000110101001

Digital cell updated as it travels through NAP and destination ISP and router.


Client DNA translated into binary code when user interacts online.


A digital cell is created with data recorded in binary code in the nucleoid

All digital cells collected together form a master DNA file for the client in the cloud.

More than a single cell may be created by the user depending on the size of content. Router sends these cells in packets.


Plasmid has metadata stored data recorder wthout client initiation e.g. date, time and user no

Chromosome DNA has active data stored - data created by the user such as a tweet, facebook status.

Digital cell is sent to the Internet service provider, plasmid updated.

Overtime our digital DNA may be altered or re-combined by viruses or by other cells, which will result an instance of a digital mutation.

01011 010110 101000110101001

Altered genetic code

010111001010110 101000110101001



Domain name server locates the destination servers and sends the cell in the right direction.

The Virtual Hereafter  

Presentation board for the final major project

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