Sand Harbor | Tahoe Dam | Eagle Rock | (Heavenly coming soon)
Site Photography by Ryland West
Tahoe Timescape by Jonathon Keats
Photographer James Cowan
TAHOE TIMESCAPE is a public art project conceptualized by experimental philosopher and artist Jonathon Keats that photographically documents the next thousand years of environmental change in the Lake Tahoe Basin. The project enlists a new approach to photography based on the traditional pinhole camera. Pierced through a plate of 24-karat gold, a minuscule pinhole focuses light onto a rose colored pigment, such that the color fades most where the light is brightest, very slowly imprinting a unique positive image. The Millennium Camera's thousand-year-long photographic exposure, taken between 2018 - 3018, not only shows the view in front of the camera, but also records how it develops over time, revealing dynamics ranging from urban development to climate change.
While one goal of Tahoe Timescape is to provide documentation of human and environmental dynamics for study by future generations, the Millennium Camera, custom made from copper for durability, is equally intended as a mechanism for people today to envision their long-term impact on the environment – and potentially to change the picture by altering their behavior. Tahoe Timescape features four Millennium Cameras that will be deployed around all four shores of Lake Tahoe, with fixed vantage points positioned to provide an expansive view of the Lake Tahoe Basin, presenting multiple opportunities for the public to engage in deep-time thinking as they explore the region. Local landscape photographer Ryland West explored each site to shoot a set of landscape photographs paired with digital pinhole photographs focused on the actual vantage point from the Millennium Cameras to help us imagine the photographic composition that will be recorded by each between now and 3018.
Acclaimed as a "poet of ideas" by The New Yorker and a "multimedia philosopher-prophet" by The Atlantic, Jonathon Keats is an artist, writer and experimental philosopher based in San Francisco. His conceptually-driven interdisciplinary projects explore all aspects of society through science and technology. In recent years, he has installed a camera with a thousand-year-long exposure time on Lake Tahoe – documenting the long-term effects of climate change – in partnership with Tahoe Public Art; launched a reciprocal biomimicry initiative – allowing non-human species to benefit from human technologies – at Bucknell University; opened a photosynthetic restaurant serving gourmet sunlight to plants at the Crocker Art Museum; and deployed a cosmic welcome mat – countering xenophobia by fostering relations with aliens – at the International Astronautical Congress. Keats is the author of six books, most recently You Belong to the Universe: Buckminster Fuller and the Future, published by Oxford University Press, and the author of a weekly online art and design column for Forbes. He was recently the Black Mountain College Legacy Fellow at the University of North Carolina - Asheville, and is currently a Research Fellow at the Nevada Museum of Art's Center for Art + Environment, a Polar Lab Artist at the Anchorage Museum, a Visiting Scholar at San Jose State University, and an Artist-in-Residence at both the Fraunhofer Institutes in Germany and UC Berkeley's Sagehen Creek Field Station in California. Keats is represented by Modernism Gallery, San Francisco. A monograph about his art is forthcoming from Hirmer Verlag.