Timescope | 1995




video | 01 |

The timescope was developed in the mid 90s to render a graspable picture of the berlin wall. Apart from a few preserved sections of the wall, almost all traces of the construction that dominated the life of the city for three decades have now disappeared.
Looking through the timescope at Bernauer Strasse for instance, users see today’s underground station. They can then navigate back to 1961, the year in which the Berlin wall was built and see the first provisional barbed wire barriers erected on that very spot. Moving on through the years of 1968, 1976 and 1980, they can track the different stages of development of the wall. The user can witness the transformation from the brick walls of the 60s, to the concrete slabs, later with additions like the panorama platform and graffiti. Arriving in the present, they realize that this once-powerful bulwark is now nothing but a memory.
Inside the timescope is a display on which pictures and films are shown. Panning the timescope changes the viewing direction and a toggle switch changes the time period. Historical films and images are overlaid on the live view of the present exactly matching the perspective, thus enabling a travel through time. Computer simulations enable them to travel forward in time and see what the place could look like in the future. A camera attached to the timescope takes pictures at regular intervals and integrates them into the system, automatically expanding the journey through time on a continuous basis.
The timescope contextualizes its location: the visual history of the place brings its story back to life. The familiar shape in which the device is presented and handled makes it a very accessible interface that motivates passers by to have a go.

The timescope had been developed together with my colleagues and friends at art+com and buero staubach.