Have an account? Login | New to Lomography? Register | Lab | Current Site:

A Brief History of Time (Capsules)

Time Capsules are collections of objects that are buried or contained and then re-opened in the future. Some people say they are the closest we can come to time-travelling – They are a unique way of communicating with future generations through objects from today.

Photo by clichecliche44

Imagine the feeling you get when you forget about one of your favorite things and then find it again, years later – It’s great isn’t it! (Apart from the fact that you’re now in your mid-20’s and spending your days watching the Transformers cartoons on VHS isn’t so socially acceptable). Now imagine that you open a time capsule with letters and photos written by people who lived hundreds or thousands of years ago, how cool would that be! Let’s take a journey in time and look at some of the most interesting capsules in history…

Photo by gnarlyleech

The Crypt of Civilization

Although they didn’t call it a Time Capsule when they made it in 1936, the Crypt of Civilization is acknowledged by the Guinness Book of Records as the first Time Capsule – That means that it is the “first successful attempt to bury a record of this culture for any future inhabitants or visitors to the planet Earth”. The Time Capsule is buried in an airtight chamber at Oglethorpe University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Alongside numerous other objects, the crypt includes over 640,000 pages of literature – Religious texts such as the Bible and the Koran are there, as are works of literature such as Homer’s ‘Iliad’ and Dante’s ‘Inferno’. The Time Capsule is due to be opened in year 8113 AD so put the date in your diaries everyone!!

Photo by marshall4480

The Westinghouse Capsules

Many World Fairs over the years have been commemorated with Time Capsules. For example, the Westinghouse Electric company prepared 2 well-known time capsules, one for the 1939 New York World Fair and the other for the 1965 fair – Both are buried 50 foot below ground and both are scheduled to be opened in 6939 – That’s 5000 years after the first Time Capsule was sealed! The organizers of the capsules weren’t sure if their buried treasures would ever be found again so they came up with a solution to help. They sent a book titled ‘The Book of Record’ to libraries all over the world – The book says exactly where the capsules are buried.

Some objects in the 1939 Time Capsule: Can opener, electric lamp, watch, Mickey Mouse cup and a MINIATURE CAMERA!

Some objects in the 1965 Time Capsule: Bikini, transistor radio, freeze dried food, computer memory unit and a POLAROID CAMERA!

Photo by artpunk

Andy Warhol’s Time-Capsules

When Andy Warhol relocated his Studio in 1974 he moved all his equipment with him in cardboard boxes – Andy liked the idea of storing his ‘stuff’ in these boxes and so began a Time Capsule project. He would put all kinds of things in the cardboard boxes – Magazines, photographs, business correspondence and other things that he came across in his day-to-day life. Once a box was full, Warhol would seal it with tape, write a date or title on the side of the box and store it away. He kept up this routine until he died in 1987 – By this time, he had collected 612 finished Time Capsules! The Time Capsules were largely unknown until Warhol’s death and are a perfect demonstration of how exciting discovering them can be. The Capsules were made available to scholars and collectors and provide a really interesting insight into Warhol’s life – As someone whose art was all about Pop and consumer culture, the capsules also fit well with Warhol’s story – Each box is a record of the mundane and quirky aspects of his life.

Photo by ritamiguel

Time Capsules in Space? The KEO Project

Conceived by the French artist/scientist Jean-Marc Philippe, the KEO project is perhaps the most ambitious time capsule of all time. His idea was to launch a Time Capsule into space as a satellite. The capsule would contain messages from everyone on the planet – The satellite has enough capacity to carry a 4 page document from literally everyone on Earth! The KEO would also carry a diamond with a single drop of human blood. The plan was for the satellite to fly around space for 50,000 years and then return to earth –What an idea! The only problem is…it hasn’t launched yet! The capsule was originally supposed to be launched in 2003 and has been delayed and delayed – It is now supposed to go this year but let’s believe it when we see it!

Photo by chikapop

Why not make your own photographic Time Capsule at home? What would you put in it? Enter our Time Capsule rumble and let us know!

The London Lomography Gallery Stores recently ran a Time Capsule project – Lomographers’ films will be stored for exactly one year and then be developed – Unfortunately the deadline for submissions has passed and the time capsule door has been shut but here are a few photos from the project so far!

Want to learn more about the analogue future? Head to the Microsite, take part in our Shoot Your Prophecy Competition and download the Future is Analogue posters!

written by tomas_bates

No comments yet, be the first

Read this article in another language

This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Deutsch, Italiano & Spanish.