Sven Stillich was born in 1969. He studied linguistics before attending the prestigious Henri Nannen School of Journalism. Since then he has contributed to a range of newspapers and magazines and worked as a sub-editor. For many years, he ran a blog, “Verweilen im Vorübergehen”, where he published photos, stories and thoughts from everyday life. He is active in Hamburg’s “Gängeviertel” underground art scene and is working on a long-term creative project, “Erfundstücke”. His book Second Life: How Virtual Worlds are Changing Our Lives was published by Ullstein in 2007.
WHAT REMAINS OF US
Wherever we go, whatever we do, we leave traces behind us, even when we’re trying not to. The wind catches a sweet wrapper and carries it off, fingerprints cling to a surface for years. We also imprint ourselves into the memories of people we meet, our families and friends. Sometimes an off-the-cuff remark to a stranger reverberates with that person for years. Something of us remains in the world, even when we leave it. The smell left behind by a parent on their favourite pullover, money in the bank, a selfie uploaded to a Facebook page, a father’s favourite joke.
Some traces are ephemeral, some indelible. Reading this book constantly provokes us into asking: What would I leave behind if I had to flee my home, right now? What would I take with me? Should I ask grandma about her childhood while she’s still able to tell me about it? When was the last time I did a backup of my most important data? How much is my sense of humour influenced by my partner? And when I’m gone for good, what will remain of me and my life? Who is going to remember me, and can I influence that?
Sven Stillich’s thought-provoking new book is an investigation into the biological, psychological and cultural traces we leave behind, the “residue” that remains when we leave a place, a person or the world behind.
“We leave behind us traces in the world without noticing, and we change its development. There are no monuments or memorials, often not even a 'thank you'. But our lives continue in those of others. We store people within us. For some, that’s just a function of our brain, for others, it’s a great source of comfort.”