Capturing the permanence and evanescence of a moment

What is time? Defining time in a non-controversial manner has eluded most people including the greatest scholars. This work evokes the consciousness of the concept of time through an unfamiliar experience - taking self-portraits and watching them vanish on paper instantaneously. Photography is a process of capturing an instance of dynamic events as a permanent visual at that moment: turning fleeting matters to permanent. Still images are time-invariant, whilst still images that fade away are time-variant: turning permanent matters to evanescent. More interestingly, the evanescence of the event captured by the image is different from that of the ephemeral image itself.

In this work, participants will witness silhouettes of their portraits appearing and dissipating on paper. The technical setup consists of two rolls of thermal printer paper, a camera, a microphone, a pair of headphones and custom electronics. Participant's portrait will be printed on two types of thermal paper: one is regular receipt paper and the other is custom thermochromic paper. Images created on the thermochromic paper will disappear after a few seconds of being printed out. The mechanical noise generated by the printers is manipulated by a digital resonator and sent through the headphones to be listened by the participants to intensify their experience.

M.-L. Lam, “Creating Instantly Disappearing Prints Using Thermochromic Paint and Thermal Printer in an Interactive Art Installation.” In Aaron Marcus (Ed.), Design, User Experience and Usability. User Experience in Novel Technological Environments, LNCS, Vol. 8014, 290-295, 2013.

1. The 17th ifva Festival Interactive Media Exhibition, Mar 2012.
2. The 3rd Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Jul - Aug 2012.

Special Mention in The 17th ifva (2012) Interactive Media Category

the-making-of video