Project will reveal the changing landscape over a thousand years

Have you ever wondered what a landscape a thousand years from now?

Thanks to the visionary ‘Millennium Camera’ project, created by Jonathon Keats, experimental philosopher at the University of Arizona College of Fine Arts, it will be possible to observe the evolution of a landscape over the course of a millennium.

It may seem unrealistic, however, the project aims to document the evolution of the scenario for future generations and is already underway.

A slow photo, a long story

The innovative project proposes a unique approach to preserving the visual memory of the Arizona desert throughout a thousand yearsthat is, in 3024.

The ‘Millennium Camera’ is a pinhole camera, a reinvention of the first type of camera ever invented. Composed of a copper cylinder and a thin 24-carat gold leaf, the device uses a small hole to allow light to enter.

Over the course of a thousand years, this light falls on a surface covered in thin layers of oil paint, known as rose madder.

The camera is installed in Arizona – Image: Chris Richards/Reproduction

The pigment in this paint slowly fades to varying degrees, revealing the changing landscape of the Arizona desert.

Mounted on a steel pole, the device promises a unique and artistic representation of the passage of time.

Unlike a traditional photograph, the resulting image will be a artistic representationcapturing the most stable elements more clearly.

Keats explains that buildings, subject to changes and removals over the centuries, will appear in a more ethereal way, highlighting the impermanence of human presence in the landscape.

For example, if, over the course of 500 years, all dwellings are removed, the mountains will remain clear, while the remains of buildings will create a ghostly appearance.

The intention is for the image to become a work of art that transcends time, providing a reflection on the ephemerality of humanity.

Challenges and future projects

The success of the project depends on the camera and steel pole remaining in place, without significant interference throughout the millennium. Therefore, an explanatory sign already guides the purpose of such items.

While we await the final photo, Keats is already planning to expand the project, installing ‘Millennium’ cameras in places like Griffith Park in Los Angeles, the Austrian Alps and China.

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Although we will not live to witness the outcome of the ‘Millennium Camera’, the initiative is a bold attempt to transcend time and capture the evolution of a landscape over centuries.

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