Zeno Boundary



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Zeno Boundary collects portraits of places regarded as public, created according to a prescribed photographic system. For a full demo see the Turbulence-hosted version.

Images uploaded by contributors are algorithmically animated into a looped sequence of pans and zooms through a space. In the spirit of Lomography, Folk Cartography, and Oulipo, the project exists somewhere between a humanized system and a systematized human.

The project originated in Spring 2006 as part of the Mobile Studios project, in cooperation with curators of the 13 Kubikov collective in Bratislava, Slovakia.

After touring with Mobile Studios through Eastern Europe, the project continued as part of the 2007 Depauw Biennial Exhibition, in Greencastle, Indiana, and as a spotlighted project on Turbulence.org.

The project asks contributors to shoot images of a particular place according to a pre-defined regime of walking and photographing. Each photographer constructs a single “spoke” of a 360-degree array of views, rooted in a particular place, and uploads them into a server. A programmed animation then assembles the views into pans and zooms through the space.

Sites mappped so far include

  • Holton Quad, Depauw University, Greencastle, IN
  • Alexander Battenberg Square, Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Namestie SNP – Bratislava, Slovakia
  • North Quad, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Time Square, New York City


Here are the instructions each photographer follows to construct a single spoke of the photographic array:

  1. Once your group has chosen a place to photograph, choose a common starting point for all participants.
  2. Next, each person should select some destination to approach from that starting point. Notice with your eyes where this path must end, where the body will meet a barrier that would require stopping or changing direction.
  3. Point your camera at that endpoint, and snap a picture.
  4. Next, walk exactly halfway to the endpoint. Aim your camera at the endpoint, and snap a picture.
  5. From your new position, walk again halfway to your endpoint. Aim your camera at the endpoint, and snap a picture.
  6. Repeat as long as you can, growing ever closer to your destination, but never reaching it.
  7. Return to the center, and either upload your images, or capture another spoke of the wheel.


Here are some early manual sketches of the project’s two main features: a pan and a zoom of a site created algorithmically from the same image set:


By way of process, here’s an edited video of my students constructing the Urbana node, along with some text I was thinking about at the time:

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