Talbot’s dream (fragment)
110 x 110 CM (double sided)

~ Talbot’s Dream

Henry Fox Talbot or Nicéphore Niépce could never imagine what photography would become in less than two centuries. Their humble invention has taken us on a journey, from the infamous barred window to cruise missiles and point-clouds.
Once photography became digital, its superficial data could be read and interpreted by computers. The pioneers in image computation encouraged the prototyping of photo-guided cruise missiles. This system was planned to be similar to TERCOM, but its program used surveillance photographs rather than elevation maps. Inside these missiles was a computer that compared these images with photographs captured by the missile’s camera. The system proved too slow, and TERCOM took its place instead. Software and hardware evolution meant that machines have constantly increased their capacity to interpret and recognize the human world. Think of DARPA’s Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System.
Aided by algorithms, multiple digital photographs can be used to generate fairly accurate 3D models of most spaces and objects. Stereophotogrammetry can potentially be outsourced: multiple photographs of a specific object or space uploaded online by different users can be used to reconstruct 3D models. This essentially means that every photograph might be instrumentalized to generate a digital copy of the world for machines to understand.
Stereophotogrammetry might sound like a very sophisticated application of photography, but just give an iPad with Capture 123 to a 12 year old and you might immediately rebuff that misconception. While we are still very far from having a comprehensive digital copy of our constantly changing world, the implications of this technology for humans and non-humans are yet to be known. However, we can speculate that these developments will bring about changes in the way we will experience and conceive physical spaces in the near future. The real and the virtual might overlap in yet to be discovered ways, two synchronized, parallel worlds might ensue: A physical world for humans and other animals together with its digital carbon copy for non-human subjects.  
In October 1833, confusing naturalist depiction with art, William Henry Fox Talbot had the urge to invent something that could replace his unskilled drawings of Lake Como’s scenery. His goal was perfectly captured in the ominous title of his book: The Pencil of Nature. For him, photography the natural world’s path to self-depiction. Nearly two centuries later, we can update his naive observation: today, it's slowly becoming evident that the scientific and military deployments of photography have aided the ultimate virtual re-presentation of our world in multi dimensionally accurate ways far beyond Talbot’s dreams.
This project will scan multiple forms of dead natural subjects and digitize them both for human enjoyment and machine consumption.

This project was made in collaboration with Miguel Mesa Posada and Martin Zellerhoff.

The models are presented as a large data visualization photo-sculpture. (Installation view at This is The Sea, ArtMonteCarlo 2018).