We live in a time of moments layered upon moments, our interactions ephemeral and our attentions spans shortening by the day. But London-based artist Shawn Soh is determined to prove that there is "value in ephemera". To that end, he's hammered together an Arduino camera, a printer and a hair straightener to create an installation piece called The Eraser in collaboration with Persiis Hajiyanni, which he describes as the world's first analog version of Snapchat.
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 see your own portrait for a few seconds, only to watch the paper slide through a hair straightener and immediately turn black, joining a pile of other erased portraits. Just like Snapchat, the machine showcases moments with an expiry date. And no, you can't screengrab it.
"A couple tinkering on their iPhone on a romantic date, tourists Instagramming sights instead of taking it in, lonebirds scrolling on Facebook to fill in silent gaps in a house party... These are all common sights," Soh explains. "I wondered if we'd lost the ability to just simply live in the moment without the necessity to enshrine it virtually."