Time Machines

When I was in second grade, I saw the film The Time Machine at a drive-in theater. It was directed by George Pal, starred Rod Taylor, and was released in 1960. It was scary. It was cool. It had "primitive" special effects by today's standards. But I loved it.

Eventually, it sent me to the library to get the novel by H.G. Wells. Twenty years later, I taught that book to a bunch of like-minded seventh graders that I had lured into reading its very 19th century pages with very 21st century imaginings about traveling through time.

Then, the summer after fourth grade, I tried to build a time machine in my own basement. I had a "lab" in a old coal bin that was full of chemistry sets, rockets, rocks, any tool I could find, model car kits and salvaged electronic components.

I had no idea where to start or what to do, but I just went at it. (Years later, I would jealously watch ET do the same kind of thing successfully.) I have never lost my fascination for time travel.

Last May, artist Paul St George exhibited an outdoor interactive video installation linking London and New York City in a faux "telectroscope."

Unfortunately, I only found out about it after it was over.

Of course, it wasn't any more real than the ones from earlier centuries - but it "worked."

It had a fictional "back story" that said that the device worked by using a transatlantic tunnel started by the artist's fictional great-grandfather, Alexander Stanhope St. George. People looking in one end in NYC could see and hear those at the other end in London.

telectroscope photo via my Flickr friend urbanshoregirl

I like the term "distant seeing" that was attached to the invention and has remained.

The installation art actually used a visual high speed broadband link between London and New York City that did allow people to see across the ocean.

You can't really call any of these "television systems" or "time machines." And the term telectroscope was replaced by the term "television." But, looking back at the original 1870s imaginings, it sounds like they were describing television or the Internet - or some merging of the two that is in progress right now.

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1 comment:

  1. I'd like to see see your list of favorite time travel books & films. My own would include TIME & AGAIN (book & film)and The Time Traveler's Wife.