Albert Einstein once proclaimed, “Life is a preparation for the future; and the best preparation for the future is to live as if there were none.” In today’s constantly-connected, FOMO-ridden society, too many of us possess a compulsive concern that we may very well miss out on an opportunity for “a social interaction, a novel experience, profitable investment or some other satisfying event.” In other words, we can’t simply can’t let go of the fact that nothing lasts forever — not even in the digital world.
In an attempt to illustrate the passage of time, a group of London-based Makers decided to create a collaborate project entitled “The Eraser” to convey the significance of living in the moment using an interactive analog Snapchat along with a hair straightener, thermal printer and an Atmel-based Arduino.
“140-character tweets and Instagrams get lost amidst those of everyone else fighting for their 15 minutes of fame. The irony is that despite the fleeting nature of social media, we continue attempting to preserve ourselves through ‘grams and apps like Snapchat. But even Snapchats don’t stick around forever,” revealed Complex writer Susan Cheng.
To depict this 21st century tragedy and that there is ‘value in ephemera,’ the Makers elected to use the metaphor of Snapchat as it showcases moments with an expiry date.
“We felt expiration dates are important because it asks humans to reflect on the value of information by showing the movement of time: our present never staying still; it vanishes in a constant instance, and is erased to become a permanent past. Having an expiration date on information might also encourage people to leave their virtual worlds and live in the moment,” creator Shawn Soh explained on the project’s official page.
Viewers are directed to stand in front of the camera, which snaps a picture and immediately starts printing it out via a thermal receipt printer. You can see your photo for a few seconds before it slides through the hair straightener and turns black, gone forever. Just like Snapchat, the machine showcases moments with an expiry date. And no, you can’t screengrab it.
Watch “The Eraser” in action below.