ISSUE #18 | JONATHON KEATS | CenturyCamera
- an intergenerational surveillance program -

16.05.2014 | 7PM | Friedelstraße 29 12047 Berlin
Exhibition: 16.05.2014 - 16.05.2114 | Installation view
scroll down for international press selection


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.

"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."

According to team titanic gallery, one hundred cameras will be built, and all will be released to the german public on 16 May 2014. Anyone who visits Friedelstrasse 29 in Neukölln that evening will have the opportunity to participate in the surveillance program, paying a 10€ deposit for one of the cameras. Participants will be free to hide their cameras anywhere in Berlin that they deem worthy of long-term clandestine observation, and they'll be expected to keep the location secret into old age. At that stage, the participant will reveal the location to a child, who in turn will be responsible for keeping the secret into adulthood, so that 100 years from now one person in the world will know where to retrieve each camera. Whoever brings a camera back to team titanic in 100 years will collect the 10€ deposit, and the 100-year photo will be extracted from the sealed pinhole canister for inclusion in a special team titanic exhibition. The exhibit is scheduled to open on 16 May 2114.

Mr. Keats does not plan to attend the 2114 event, as he'll be dead. "I don't regret it at all," he says. "For me, it's much more interesting to be here today, seeing the behavior of people who know they're being watched by the unborn, and also to be watched myself, living vicariously as a future memory of the 22nd century."
. . .
CenturyCamera was released on 16 May 2014 from 7:00 PM until midnight at an opening reception organized by team titanic at Friedelstrasse 29 in Berlin-Neukölln. Jonathon Keats was on hand to demonstrate the new technology.

International Press (selection)

Vice Motherboard
Gizmodo (US)
Gizmodo (AUS)
Animal New York
Geeks & Beats
fStoppers (Interview)

Discovery News (US)
The Hindu (print / online)
Khaleej Times
Kuwait Times (print / online)
Kenya News
CBC Canada
Saudi Gazette
AFP Russia
Daily Tech Info Russia
Business World Manila
China Daily
Bangkok Post
Kosmos Indonesia
Yahoo Japan
Rai News Italy
Huffington Post Quebec
Le Parisienne
Cyprus News

Neues Deutschland
BZ Berlin
Deutschland Radio Kultur