At a time when the world feels chaotic and uncertain, these projects inspire faith in the future
Who will be reading books in 100 years’ time? (Assuming there will be anyone left to read them at all), is the question posed by Future Library in Norway. Every year since 2014, Scottish artist Katie Paterson (pictured left, with author Margaret Atwood) has invited a different author to submit a manuscript. The texts – kept secret to all but the writer – are to be sealed away, unread, until 2114. Atwood was the first to contribute.
Paterson has also planted 1,000 Norwegian spruce trees in the Nordmarka forest near Oslo, which in 100 years’ time will provide the paper for at least 3,000 anthologies of the 100 works.
“Future Library is a small project, but it has a message of hope and trust. It goes beyond us living now and reaches out, through words, to the children of our children,” Paterson told Positive News.
Image: Giorgia Polizzi
Ever feel that some pieces of music drag on a bit? Stretching seriously into the future is Longplayer, a 1,000-year long musical installation, which began playing on 31 December 1999 and will continue until 2999. It harnesses the sound of Tibetan singing bowls and is powered by computers.
The project, which can be listened to online or at Trinity Buoy Wharf in London, was dreamed up by musician Jem Finer, a founding member of The Pogues. It can be played on any format, including ones not yet invented, say organisers. They suggest Longplayer captures an optimism that the project will not outlast humanity, and say it urges us to heed a call to contemplate our own long-term survival.
It’s inspiring stuff then, but probably not a tune you’ll hum in the shower.
Image: James Whitaker
With long-term thinking sorely lacking in places today (politicians we’re looking at you), the 10,000 Year Clock (pictured left) is an attempt to put it back on our agenda. Currently being built in the heart of a mountain in Texas, it is designed to run with minimal maintenance and will be powered by energy harvested from sunlight.
It’s no run-of-the-mill timepiece: the unique melodies it will occasionally chime have been composed by deep-time enthusiast Brian Eno, and funding comes courtesy of Jeff Bezos.
The clock is designed to startle us out of the here and now and consider the future of humanity. And it poses the complex existential question (best pondered after a coffee or two): if a clock can keep going for 10 millennia, shouldn’t we make sure our civilisation does as well?
Image: Rolfe Horn
Main image: Cristofer Jeschke