1,000 Year Timelapse of London

I recently watched a TV programme about ‘the nature of reality’.  One guy said that when you speed things up, as in a time lapse, “things become processes”.  The backdrop to this conversation was a panorama of Central London.  It got me visualizing a usual timelapse sequence –  of cranes spinning wildly, of scaffolding suddenly appearing, and of a building growing inside;  while the light and dark of days and nights come and go every second or so.  To me, those sequences still show us ‘things’ (like cranes) as well as giving us a sense of processes (a building growing).  So I then tried to visualize a longer and faster timelapse, where processes would have some ascendance over things.  I imagined what 100 years shown in 10 seconds would look like.  Whole buildings would disappear in an instant.  Canary Wharf would just appear in maybe a second.  But what would be much much much better, would be 1000 years in 10 seconds.  Over the last 1,000 years, Central London has changed beyond all recognition.  The changes would flow like waves maybe, whole districts flowing with changes.  Maybe over the next 1,000 years London will change beyond all recognition again.  Maybe our postmodern nostalgia will see us trying to hold on to the landmarks, like St Paul’s, The Houses of Parliament etc.

I’d love to get this idea in the air, and for someone to make a start on it.  I mentioned it to Sarah and her brother Paul last week and they gave me strange looks.  I mean, it doesn’t even sound feasible does it?  If one person had a stint of 50 years at it, it would take 20 generations of photographers to see it through.  Has anyone ever attempted a project like this?  I can’t be the first to think of it.  Photography as we know it might even seem old hat in 50 years.  Anyway, I think it’s feasible.  You’d just need to agree a landmark to shoot it from and for a person willing to take a shot every day or so.

Just thought I’d float it before looking up ‘very’ ‘long’ ‘timelapse’ on Google!

Here’s the longest timelapse I’ve found.  35 years in 10 seconds.


About rjheeks

From 2008 to 2013 I completed a PhD on Discovery Writing. I also love photography. I'm best known for photographing soap bubbles. I also like rock art (ancient art/markings on rocks). I live near Ilkley (Yorkshire, UK) where there are quite a few pieces of rock art.
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