Photographing the Future: A special interview with Nikolas Ventourakis



4 minutes reading

Dear GUP Readers: This article was published on April 1 -- as an April Fool's Day joke. We hope you enjoy it, it's all meant in good fun. Nikolas Ventourakis was kind enough to get in on the joke with us, so please do check out his fantastic photography!

Nikolas Ventourakis (1981, Greece), a photographer previously featured in GUP, recently contacted us with news of his remarkable discovery: he can photograph the future. Currently in the U.S. on a Fulbright scholarship, he continued his photographic practice with field cameras in the American landscape, but everything changed when he realized there was a temporal leap in his imagery. While all photography up till now has been grounded in the present moment, his groundbreaking discovery opens up the possibility of peering into the future through photography. In this exclusive interview, Ventourakis reveals the secrets behind his incredible breakthrough.

Tell us how you first discovered you were able to photograph the future with your camera.

It took me quite a while to figure out, but it all started with a photo of dirt.

I was staying overnight at a motel and editing my photos, and I realized I could not find the photo of a green patch of grass I had shot on that day. However there was a photo that looked similar but was completely dry land, as if it hadn't rained in months! I was sure that I had somehow lost the photo, but then I noticed that a pair of VHS tapes were there, in the middle of the frame, in the same spot where they should be on the green grass photo! It was insane! So, I went right back the next day and I found the same spot full of green grass and the VHS tapes right there.

From that point on, all the photos I've been making with that camera are of the near or distant future. It's the first time in my life as a photographer that instead of capturing moments in time that have just passed, I capture moments that are about to be -- sometime in the future.

It took me quite a while to figure out, but it all started with a photo of dirt.

It's such an incredible achievement, but did you notice that the future looks kind of the same as it does now?

It does. However, the camera never lies. So even if it looks like it was shot today, we have to trust that it is the future. Our minds can deceive us, but the camera is an impartial witness. I wish I could say otherwise, but I trust the camera more than our interpretations.

How can you be sure you photographed the future?

What could it be if not the future?

It might be the past, for example.

I am shocked and hurt that you would even suggest this!

I'm kind of disappointed. I thought the future would be cooler.

Really? Everything looks warmer to me. Or am I taking you too literally?

But what about jet packs and robots? Haven't you been able to photograph anything in the future that can tell us about where we're heading?

I did not see any jet packs, sorry. You have to remember though that I have only recorded things experienced from a particular angle. That means that if I focused my view differently I might have captured glimpses of robots.

How far into the future are you able to photograph?

The furthest I managed to go was 2058. But that happened only once. I have come to realize that this has to do with the exposure time. The shorter the exposure, the further in the future I can photograph. That means obviously that I need vast amounts of light. So it only happened in the desert, in the middle of the day. I modified the camera to have such a small exposure time that you can barely see what's going on there, it looks as if it is solid black, but it's definitely 2058.

Wow. That's unbelievable.

I know.

Have you been able to figure out how it technically works? What mechanism allows the camera to shoot the future?

Unfortunately I can't reveal much, because I've decided to submit it for a patent. Until I am granted the patent, I must protect my intellectual property.

Come on. Not even a hint?

Well, it might have started with an accident with some coffee. But really, that's all I can say.

This sounds like an incredible opportunity to look at the future of humanity and make it better. What possibilities do you see with this technology going forward?

I think it's going to be an amazing time for photography! Instead of all these retro filters for our mobile phones, we will have 'futuristic' filters that will look like the ones we have now but they will not have that element of forced nostalgia. We won't have to look back to 'the good old days' of the past anymore – no! We will be able to see the future and will realize that we are already living in the 'good old days'!

So better filters. That's what we have to look forward to.

You should be more optimistic about it! There are people in some of the photos. So we haven't gone completely extinct at least!