Cirque du Soleil Creator Guy Laliberte Launches Second Act in Death Care
In 1984, Guy Laliberte transformed a troupe of Canadian street performers into the circus arts phenomenon Cirque du Soleil. After expanding from one to 19 shows in nearly 300 countries, Laliberte sold his empire for $1.5 billion in 2015. About that time, he started thinking about what life after Cirque du Soleil might look like. Turns out, it looks like death.
The river of life
United Memory Archive, a virtual memory vault, is one of Laliberte’s many post-Cirque projects. His new company, Lune Rouge, is dabbling in a variety of enterprises including a traveling seven-story pyramid and a line of urns.
“A long time ago, in Ibiza, someone told me that he wanted to integrate a new architecture in cemeteries in the Philippines so that they are less morbid,” Laliberte told La Presse. “It was a very physical concept. But from there, I started thinking to reinvent the ritual of death to make it a celebration of life.”
Laliberte calls United Memory Archive “a return to the oral traditions of knowledge transmission.” To get started sharing memories of a loved one, users create a digital archive called “a river of life” on UMA’s website. Registration is free, as are the first two gigabytes of data (for the first year; after that two gigs of indefinite storage costs $35). The registrant can upload text, photos, or videos and invite others to do the same.
Artefacts and etchings
This is where Lune Rouge’s urns come into play. Dubbed “artefacts,” the urns do double duty as receptacles for cremains and the information stored in a person’s river of life. Laliberte described the information-sharing mechanism to La Presse as a “code” that is engraved on the artefact and can be scanned with a cell phone. UMA can also microscopically etch up to 14,000 pages of text and images onto metal portions of an artefact.
Artefacts, which include engravable decorative objects that aren’t also urns, range in price from $125 to $2999. UMA also offers a Montage tool for $20. Montage helps users convert their river of life into a video.