What does infinity look like? It’s a tough question, a mind-blower. But artist Jeff Thompson has decided to tackle it in a project called Every Possible Photograph where he uses custom software to produce every digital photo that could ever be taken by altering the pixels of each image successively.
That way he’ll, eventually, recreate every possible variation of what a digital camera is capable of and produce an approximation of infinity, or at least a way in which our minds might grasp it. With cameras on our phones we live in snap-happy times, where we document nearly every moment of our lives through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, capturing what we had for lunch or what the view from our window looks like—Thompson’s project takes this to its absurd and futile conclusion.
Co.Design reports that before the software—which makes about 200 to 300 images a second—gets round to producing images we recognize, the sun will have exploded. So what’s the point? Well, that’s sort of the point.
Thompson explains on his website:
This project investigates the idea of using computation to “use up” a piece of technology, in this case a digital camera. Using custom-written software (and a very long period of time), every possible photograph is generated, one at a time and in numerical order.
The idea that extremely useless labor is interesting is central to this project (and the proposed project as well), as is the eschewing of the utility of data and its representation in traditional visualization work. Attempting to create every image a camera is essentially a time machine; somewhere in the set of images and alongside billions of “meaningless” others are a photograph of me, a photograph of me if I didn’t get a haircut last week, and a photograph of me with someone who I have never met.