Somewhere there is a video camera that has not been shut off for the last 20 years. It's rigid, unblinking eye has been tirelessly scanning a parking lot somewhere, silent witness to all the comings and goings of the past two decades. It has seen the same man get out of his car each morning, his body gradually sagging, less resistant to gravity, as his gait imperceptibly slows over the intervening time. It has seen the unbroken procession of days and nights, the cyclic changes in the sun and moon, the growth of trees and the perpetual variations of weather with the accumulation of it's harsh marks. It has seen the parade of fashion in car design and clothing, and witnessed the evidence of human intentions and impulses in the sudden material alterations of the physical landscape.
However this perpetual observer has no stories to tell, no store of wisdom, no knowledge of the grand patterns. Locked within a great immutable Now, it has no sense of past or future. Without a memory to give it a life, events flicker across its image surface with only a split second to linger as afterimages, disappearing forever without a trace. Today it will be shut off, the world abruptly ending in an arbitrary cut-off point, as all endings are, and a new model camera installed. In another society, this camera, with its accumulated existence, would be graduated to an object of power to be venerated and reciprocated. At least, the tubes of old cameras such as this should be installed in a shrine with the hope that someday some future technology could coax from their surface the subtle residue of a lifetime's experience. Today's event will pass with barely a notice.
Bill Viola, Reasons for Knocking at an Empty House