The Technological Memento Mori series began by falling in love with an anonymous 16th century Netherlandish portrait titled Young Girl with a Dead Bird. A toddler holding a dead sparrow in her hands stares off with a haunting expression and eerily small pupils. A similar theme of girls weeping for dead pets is depicted by Jean-Baptiste Greuze in the 18th century. Although none of these historical paintings were necessarily meant to be memento mori or vanitas paintings, they could function as such.
My thoughts led to today’s toddlers, whose first experience with death is just as likely to be a handheld device “dying” as it is the passing of a person or pet. Middle-class concern with “screentime” for young children, as well as observing children interacting with devices further informs this work.