Cherry Blossoms is a backpack that uses a small microcontroller and a GPS unit. Recent news of bombings in Iraq are downloaded to the unit every night, and their relative location to the center of the city are superimposed on a map of Boston. If the wearer walks in a space in Boston that correlates to a site of violence in Baghdad, the backpack detonates and releases a compressed air cloud of confetti, looking for all the world like smoke and shrapnel. Each piece of confetti is inscribed with the name of a civilian who died in the war, and the circumstances of their death.
Alyssa Wright began working on Cherry Blossoms last semester, wondering how to think about — and feel about — the civilian war deaths in Baghdad. Alyssa’s genius was in sacrificing herself. After all, it’s not an easy piece to perform. You don’t know when it’s going to blow. It’s shocking and loud, and one has no sense of how others will react. Of course, she won’t get hurt by the compressed air, but she might well be confused for a suicide bomber (or, more appropriately, a mooninite) and arrested.