Book Crossing meets photography - the Disposable Memory Project

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

I’ve found my favourite photography project of the week, almost certainly of the month, and given that we’re almost in November, probably of the year, too.

Take a bundle of disposable cameras, leave them places across the globe, ask people to snap a picture or two before passing on the camera, and see – quite literally when (or if) the film is developed – where the camera travelled. It’s the Disposable Memory Project.

Matthew Knight dreamed up the idea back in 2008, when he was standing in a dry cleaners somewhere in the scary metropolis that’s London and spotted a cheap single use camera for sale. (Don’t tell me that you’ve not had an astonishing idea in a most incongruous place.) If he set one free with a message on it, a unique URL to enable its progress to be tracked, and a return address so that the film can be developed and uploaded to the project’s website, what would happen? It was a slow art project that fused analogue and digital and rather piqued his fancy. (And now mine, too, for that matter.)

A few years on, over 350 cameras have been released into the wild and 30 have made it home to date. They’ve visited 70 different countries, including the South Pole, Everest’s Base Camp, and the Gambia, and travelled over 440,000 miles, which is to the moon and back. Speaking of the moon, they’re hoping to get a camera into space at some point in the near future, so if anyone can help them out there, let them know!

The Disposable Memory Project has 1600 members, all of whom have been brought together by a randomly distributed camera and the marvel that’s the Intergoogles. If you’d like to send your own camera off on its journey, buy a disposable camera, and then head over to the Disposable Memory Project website for the instructions to generate a unique URL and a camera-leaving kit.

How long do they anticipate the project continuing? For as long as they can fund it, and disposable cameras remain available for purchase. I hope that’s a while yet. It’s a damn cool project and I’m off to leave a camera somewhere.

You can see more of the project’s pictures on the website, and you can follow their cameras’ adventures on Twitter as @FoundACam, too!