Debrecen commemorates local fires with a sculpture made using urban historical data

Date: 2023.10.27
The chronicle of fires shaping Debrecen’s history was condensed into an installation by a new memorial created by researchers and alumni of the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design (MOME).

Created based on a new concept by visual artist Olga Kocsi and researcher Mihály Minkó and using data visualisation, the installation presents a novel approach to reinterpreting the city’s history and embracing a civic identity with stories pieced together from a large amount of data, various years, the number of victims, types of buildings, and the properties of locations.

This contemporary piece of art has been crafted using the tools of design, and the design mindset was present in the creative process at every step of the way from identification of the potential target audiences to concept development. The resulting artwork is far more powerful than conventional ones, helping us relate to the past and stories through several layers, which has considerable identity forming power for younger generations. 

The installation was created using records and written documents from the Debrecen archives, and digitalised data and maps from Dr. Jenő Roncsik’s paper. The glass panels of the monolith are a reminder of past tragedies, while symbolising determination and rebirth. Materials of reconstruction are also present: wood, glass, metal, and concrete complement each other to convey a definitive narrative of the city’s history, with the message that the city and its inhabitants have always been able to recover and find new strength from adversity. 
Contributing artists: 
Data physicalisation: Olga Kocsi (MOME alumna), Mihály Minkó (MOME Innovation Center) 
Project manager: Natália Pass (MOME Innovation Center) 
Design: Olga Kocsi 
Coding: Dávid Mórász 
Wood: Fanni Hegedűs (MOME alumna) 
Metal: Előd Halász (MOME alumnus) 
Concrete: Olga Kocsi courtesy of VPI Kft.  
Glass: János Gyula Szegedi, Mrs. Szegedi née Piroska Szilágyi 
Photo: János Miskolczi

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