1984 Today!
1984 Today!
Episode 115: Bjørn Karmann on The Moment That Never Was

Episode 115: Bjørn Karmann on The Moment That Never Was

The inventor and technologist discusses his lens-less AI camera Paragraphica, subversive design, and our relationship to reality.

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Bjørn Karmann is a Danish inventor based in Amsterdam who created Paragraphica, a lens-less camera powered by AI that uses data instead of light to create images. It generates a photograph of what it ‘thinks’ you are looking at, using variables like the weather, the time of day, and of course, your location. It also looks wild.

I saw his demo of how it works and had to speak to him.

We know our memories are imperfect, but a photo of a moment is still a snapshot of a point in time in our lives. Now, with Paragraphica, that snapshot of a moment of life is not just mediated by technology, it is generated. Is it real? Is it fake? Something in between? What could a future of moments generated rather than captured look like? What will the past look like from that future? Would it really even be our past?

You can try the online version of Paragraphica on his website.

Bjørn’s work could be called ‘subversive design’; he creates things that comment on or alter existing technology. His previous inventions have included Alias, a “teachable parasite” that gives you more control over your home ‘smart assistant’, and Occlusion Grotesque, a font that changes over time because it is carved into a tree.

We had a great conversation about his work, his philosophy of design, intrusive technology, the relationship between memory and reality, and much more. We even came up with an idea for our own app, but you’ll need to listen to find out what it is.

Bjørn is on X as @BjoernKarmann and his website is https://bjoernkarmann.dk/.

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