It's a little disconcerting to know how many of our day-to-day movements are being recorded in real time, what with CCTV, security cams and smartphone-wielding strangers. And while Google Streetview's taking short-term before-and-after shots of our cities, one artist wants to capture a city's evolution over a hundred years in a series of extra-extra-extra-long exposure images.
Berlin is about to become the backdrop for Century Camera, a new project by "experimental philosopher" Jonathon Keats and Team Titanic Gallery. Using traditional pinhole camera tech, they have created 100 of what they're calling "photographic time capsules." Instead of film, a black sheet of photographic paper will sloooowly fade out, eventually revealing the positive capture — a somewhat eerie evolution of a single locale.
On May 16, folks who'd like to make history way after they have shuffled off this mortal coil can pick up one of 100 Century Cameras for €10 ($15) and decide where they would like to leave it. Whoever collects it in 2116 will also receive the original deposit, and presumably a VIP ticket to the subsequent exhibition of the recovered pics (planned for May 16, natch).
Will it all work out? Who knows! As the release states pretty succinctly: "Mr. Keats does not plan to attend the 2114 event, as he'll be dead." We'll all be dead. Which sounds morbid, but I'll be damned if I don't actually find to be kind of wonderful — in concept. The pace of living, of creative endeavours, of work, of communication — it's all so fast.
The prospect of beginning something with every intention of having it be realised in real life but absolutely no possible way to see it through is beautiful. Like knowing there's a clock that will still be ticking 10,000 years from now.
The idea of keeping tabs on a town not through second-by-second freeze frames but a dreamy print of what's come and gone makes the idea of surveillance seem far less intrusive. "The photograph not only shows a location, but also shows how the place changes over time," Keats explains. "For instance an old apartment building torn down after a quarter century will show up only faintly, as if it were a ghost haunting the skyscraper that replaces it." That's assuming, of course, that the spot where the Century Camera's placed is still standing, and that everything develops properly.
There are a million unknowns, and the chance that the lo-fi tech could fail along the way, but it's fascinating to imagine what kind of wild media the next generation will be playing (and contending) with, and what a curiosity these old timey photos will seem. [Architizer]