A camera capturing future change

10:30 by Cornelius Holtorf

The American artist and philosopher Jonathon Keats has been creating an ingenious little camera that documents the flow and passage of time over a century or a millennium. It is a simple device that involves black paper gradually bleaching in response to the light let in through a pinhole and thus producing something like a single-frame movie.

Keats explains:

“Anything that stays in place will look sharp. Anything moving quickly, like cars and people, won’t show up at all. And anything that changes slowly, like a growing tree, will be ghostly. You’ll also be able to see bigger changes, like the ghost of a house that’s been knocked down haunting the apartment building that takes its place.”

There are many reasons why this camera may not work but the camera is cheap to build and an exhibition of each camera’s picture is already set to be opened in 3015 at the Art Museums of Arizona State University. Keats knows that “[m]ost likely it will take multiple attempts, spanning tens of thousands of years, to get the exposure right.” But this prospect does not daunt him:

“The ongoing iterative process of trying to perfect this technology can provide countless generations with a sense of connection and collective purpose.”

Cornelius Holtorf
In 2017, Linnaeus University in Kalmar, Sweden, was awarded a UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures. This is one of eight Chairs in Sweden, and the only one within the cultural sector. Cornelius Holtorf, holder of the UNESCO Chair, alongside Anders Högberg and Sarah May, will continue to generate ideas through this forum.

Comments are closed.