Jonathon Keats Will Capture 100 Years in a Single Photograph

Jonothan Keats with his century camera.

American conceptual artist Jonathon Keats has enlisted people all over Berlin to help him create photographs that will capture 100 years in a single image, reports the AFP.

As part of what he is calling a “thought experiment,” Keats has created 100 super-long exposure pinhole cameras. The specially-rigged devices have been passed out to 100 Berliners who have been asked to place their cameras in locations of their own choosing across the city.

Each device will capture the changing face of Berlin over the next century. The project will effectively place the city under long-term surveillance, the fruits of which will only be seen by those who are around a century from now.

The artist has asked participants to carefully guard the secret locations of their “photographic time capsules” into their old age, and to give instructions to a child for the camera’s retrieval at the appointed date.

Keats has constructed his durable steel canister cameras using black paper, rather than photographic stock. Light will enter through a small, highly focused pinhole, allowing the paper to fade based on whatever is in its view.

Though the fast moving activity of day-to-day life won’t be captured, permanent structures will appear. As Keats explained in a press release “if you have a camera directed towards some houses and those houses get bulldozed after 25 years and they build a skyscraper, what you’ll see are just the ghosts of the houses, a shadow of the houses. The skyscraper will be bolder in the same image. It’ll be a double exposure in effect.”

In 100 years’ time, the descendants of today’s “photographers” will turn in the cameras to Team Titanic gallery in Berlin in exchange for the return of their $14 deposit. The gallery will develop the images for an exhibition, “CenturyCamera,” already set to open May 16, 2114.

Although the technology is by its very nature untested, Keats plans to bring the project to other cities, and hopes the United Nations will soon become involved.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Article topics