Friday, May 16, 2014

World's Slowest Surveillance Cameras Will Spy on Berlin for the Next 100 Years

The city of Berlin, currently undergoing the biggest real estate boom since German reunification, has been chosen to pilot a global initiative monitoring urban development and decay over the next century. Instigated by experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats in cooperation with the Berlin-based team titanic gallery, the unauthorized surveillance program will use ultra-long-exposure cameras to continuously document 100 years of municipal growth and decay for scrutiny and judgment by future generations.  

Camera in situ. Click to enlarge.
"The first people to see these photos will be children who haven't yet been conceived," says Mr. Keats. "They're impacted by every decision we make, but they're powerless. If anyone has the right to spy on us, it's our descendants."

To facilitate intergenerational surveillance in Berlin and other yet-to-be-disclosed cities, Mr. Keats has invented a new photographic system based on the traditional pinhole camera. "My photographic time capsules are extremely simple, since anything complicated is liable to break," says Mr. Keats. The cameras use sheets of black paper in place of ordinary film. The pinhole focuses light on the black paper sheet, such that the paper fades most where the light is brightest, very slowly creating a unique positive image of the scene in front of the camera. "The photograph not only shows a location, but also shows how the place changes over time," Mr. 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." 

CenturyCamera will be released on 16 May 2014 from 7:00 PM until midnight at an opening reception organized by team titanic at Friedelstrasse 29 in Berlin-Neuk├Âlln. Jonathon Keats will be on hand to demonstrate the new technology. (more)