Behind the Scenes of The Memory Observatory: Meet the Director

These past few weeks The Memory Observatory has gone from a plan, to a framework, to shipping crates and now a completed structure at SXSW.

The sleek angled physical design of The Memory Observatory is only an indication of the journey that awaits visitors that enter it. To bring that experience alive was the challenge for Marcos Lutyens, one of the world’s leading sensorial artists.


Marcos Lutyens has exhibited internationally, including 340 performances over 100 days at dOCUMENTA(13) and with many other museums and institutions including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Royal Academy, the National Art Museum of China, MoMA PS1 and many more. Partnering with Kodak Alaris, his next stage will be The Memory Observatory at SXSW.


Lutyen shares his vision of The Memory Observatory with the following…

“I fused the beauty of dreaming and the reality of life into a single blissful color.” – Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

In a world where technology often isolates us and digital images disappear faster than our recollection of the original events, The Memory Observatory develops a counter-flow that regenerates memories while bridging the gap between us, as social beings. It serves as a platform of collective consciousness across space and time.

There are so many popular references to shared memories and access to other people’s consciousness that it has pretty much become an expected cultural and cognitive reality. Movies like Total Recall, Inception or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind have popularized the idea that not only can memories be localized within the brain, but that they can be shared and viewed by others. MIT neuroscientists Steve Ramirez and Xu Liu have proved that this is the case by being able to pinpoint specific memories within the brain, thus confirming what is often predicted in fiction long before science catches up. A good example of this is space travel, which was first written about in Roman times in a book called ‘True Stories,’ predating the moon landing by some 1,800 years. However, the lags between fiction and reality nowadays are very much shorter and so the idea of sharing memories in a full sensorial spectrum seems within our grasp.

The Memory Observatory is really just a way of accelerating predicted reality into a tangible form.  In this case the subject matter is shared consciousness. The use of imagery to extend memory dates back over thousands of years, but it was George Eastman who turned frozen memories into living ones by developing the idea of the snapshot. This was conceived of as a window, not into a formal idea of a moment, such as in the case of a bust or a portrait, but rather a real, lived instant with its lasting and yet spontaneous emotional imprint combined with the social dynamic of the moment.

In The Memory Observatory, we reverse engineer a synesthetic process to heighten the emotional state of visitors, combining sounds, color and smell. In so doing we create a state of enhanced consciousness, which forms the perfect environment for absorbing a sharable memory.


The structure and induction.

Two structures are joined by a passageway. They have fractal patterns carved into them as they taper upwards. The smaller of the two is called the Reflection Room.  Similar in name to my installation called the Reflection Room as part of the Hypnotic Show performance at dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany, and similar also in the sense that the word ‘Reflection’ is about looking inwards rather than the presence of mirrors.

Inside, an ‘Experience Guide’ discusses with a visitor about memories, about past experiences and also whether that guest has any image that s/he would like to share.

The Experience Guide makes note of the emotional feelings related to this memory, and according to a specially developed synesthetic wheel, a cascade of color, musical notes and smells are gathered in preparation.

The guest then goes through a narrow passageway until s/he reaches the larger of the two spaces: the Memory Observatory in which the visitor is immersed into a heightened vision of his/her own memory.  Other guests are there too to experience this memory, and after a while their own memories are integrated into the kaleidoscopic array.


Emotions are linked to specific colors, smells and sounds according to a synesthetic wheel developed for the Memory Observatory. This wheel has been generated through research in the fields of psychology, neuroscience, olfactory and sound design theory.


The original experience or ‘meaningful moment’ is frozen as a snapshot within the photo library of the visitor until the moment it is brought back alive and augmented within the Memory Observatory. The aspect of sharing one’s memory with others through enhanced sensory cues is the truly innovative aspect of this installation


Memories are formed, triggered and replayed through the sense centers in the brain, this is why we are using the sense of smell, hearing and sight to bring these memories back alive to their fullest extent and beyond.

* According to The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley,

‘Each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe…According to such a theory, each one of us is potentially Mind at Large.’

The Memory Observatory will debut at SXSW on March 12 in the Austin Convention Center, Ballroom B. Hours are March 12 Noon-6pm, March 13-14 10am-6pm and March 15 10am-3pm. More info at




The Memory Observatory: A KODAK MOMENTS Experience at SXSW

Memory… is the diary that we all carry about with us. – Oscar Wilde

What is your first memory? Most likely it’s hazy around the edges… vague. If you have a photo of that memory it is probably sharper and easier to remember. Because what is a photo, but a memory frozen in time?

Now what if you could experience a memory, in a physical way, outside of your own mind? This is what Kodak Alaris is offering at this year’s SXSW. Kodak Alaris partnered with Marco Lutyens to build The Memory Observatory, an interactive installation that explores memories through the senses and what Moments mean.

Why SXSW for this one-of-a-kind experience? SXSW Interactive has become known as the launch pad for creative and emerging technologies. SXSW attendees are hungry for new ideas, such as ways to digitally connect and share their stories, but are faced with the challenge of cutting through the clutter. The Memory Observatory, inspired by the new KODAK MOMENTS App, turns photos into a memory journey. It’s a reminder that in this digital age, your most precious memories and their stories need a special place of their own.

The Memory Observatory opens at SXSW on March 12. Our team has been busy preparing for that day. Every experience begins with a plan and the hands to build it from the ground up. Construction on The Memory Observatory began last month. Here are some sneak peeks at the bones of the installation that will be bringing memories to life.

If you are going to SXSW be sure to visit The Memory Observatory in Ballroom B of the Austin Convention Center. If you aren’t traveling to SXSW, stay tuned for the stories and experiences we will be sharing for you to follow along with at home.

The Memory Observatory: A KODAK MOMENTS Experience.





Make More Money with your Camera

Today’s blog post comes from Doug Box Master Photographer.

Doug Box Headshot


Why should today’s photographer print their work on photographic paper? I believe there are several of reasons. Here is my top three:

More Profit

First, images printed on traditional photographic paper can be the most profitable products you can sell. Remember, profit is always an important factor when determining product line. The cost is so low for photographic paper products.

When I am selling to my clients, I always start with the photographic paper products. It sure helps on the bottom line. I find I can mark up these products several times more than some of the nontraditional products like metal prints, canvas wraps, or novelty products. Sell the paper products first, and then sell the less profitable products. That way, if the client were to run out of money, you have your best profit margin products sold. You can always sell frames and other products when they return to pick up their prints!

Red HeadDougBox

Perfectly Match Image to Paper Surface

Second, because of the variety of papers in the Kodak Professional line, you will be available to offer the perfect paper for each image. You will be able to show your expertise to your client by matching your photographs to the right surface to bring out the best in each image!

I believe the new canvas papers look more like the old style of canvas prints -where the emulsion is removed from the backing and bonded to canvas.

Longevity of the Prints

Third, we should not forget about the archival properties of the Kodak Professional Endura papers! This subject may not be talked about as much as it was a dozen or more years ago, but this feature is still a very important benefit for our clients. I believe it is something we should use in our sales presentation.


Where have the Print Sales Gone

One of the things that seems to have changed in the industry, and not for the good, is that we as photographic professionals, have forgotten the print! We put so much energy into creating the file, Photoshopping the file, and protecting the file from falling into the hands of the client. I am convinced that the more we focus on the files and not on the print is like saying to yourself, “Don’t miss the ball” when standing at home plate with bat in your hand. Your mind hears, “miss”.

When a prospective client calls and quickly asks, “Can we buy the files?” I say “Yes” and move on to more important information like, “Who do you want to have photographed?” or “How did you happen to call me?” I start talking about them, what type of photograph do they want – do they want indoor or outdoor photographs, casual or formal, or where do they want to display their portraits? I will get back to talking about the files with the client later. Right now, let’s talk about what they want in the photography and the prints they need!

boy with CameraDougBox

Files are for sharing, Prints are for preserving!

As we know, this is the most photographed generation ever, but the least printed. Many of today’s young people will ask when they get older, “Where are the pictures of me when I was young?” I remember as a young boy, sitting with my grandmother having her show me her collection of old family photos telling me about the people in the photographs. I am afraid the vast majority of photos taken in this time in our history will not survive for future generations to enjoy. So many photos taken today are either not stored permanently or are stored on media that will not be viable in a few short years. I did early videos of my first son on Sony Betamax. When is the last time you saw a Betamax machine? Think about all the different media products that have gone the way of the dodo bird.

FamilyDougBox_MAIPP07_MG_0215 copy copy

The Lost Generation

ATLANTA, GA (November 12, 2015) – According to a nationwide survey conducted by Professional Photographers of America (PPA), 42% of people (ages 30-44) will likely look back and wonder where photos of their childhood, holiday get-togethers, relatives and friends have gone decades from now. Why? They are no longer printing photographs or creating photo albums. In fact, 67% store their photos solely in digital form on a computer or phone.

I read recently that more photographs were taken in the last five years than all photographs taken since that famous first photograph taken in an English courtyard. However, it is estimated that less than 0.00001 % of all images taken will ever be printed. Phones will die, hard drives will crash, cloud services will fail or go out of business and the majority of these images will be gone for good.

The survey polled more than 1,500 consumers nationwide about their photography habits and revealed eye-opening statistics about the lack of printing tangible photographs and non-digital image storage that could prove devastating to the chronicling of our lives.

Additional highlights from the survey include:

  • 8% of people no longer create photo albums, and an additional 27% say they have the desire but it’s too time consuming. Translation: nearly 70% of people no longer have photo albums.
  • 53% of people said they haven’t printed a photo in 12 months or longer.
  • 46% of people use their SmartPhone or tablet to take family photos
  • 57% of people store their photos on their phone or computer

106a-Cronk Knife

To Sell the Files or Not

Not everyone agrees with me, but I have sold files since I started shooting digital. In fact, I have sold files before digital, in the form of transparencies and negatives. All my commercial clients want the files in some form, and I made lots of extra money selling the negatives and the files. I always used a sliding scale: the more photography (prints) they bought, the less the files cost, the less they bought, the more the files cost. I found out this about most clients, it’s about right now. For the most part, people don’t buy from old files.

I believe our job is to guide the client through the sales process, and the selling starts from the first phone call. I sell during the portrait planning session during the photo session and during the “sales session.” If I have done my job right, we just pick our poses and purchase accessories like frames, non-photographic paper products and of course the files!

I was teaching a class recently, and one of the students was frustrated that most of her clients only wanted files. After talking with her she said most of her clients came from Facebook. It finally came to me, how can you be surprised if people only want to buy files when they come from Facebook where all they are seeing is FILES? If you want to sell more prints, show more prints. Have displays where people can see prints and use large prints.

How Fast Things Change

Just think, at the turn of this century, no one had iPods or a camera in our phone, the first camera phone was introduced in late 2000, a 0.35 megapixel by Sharp. The iPod did not appear until Oct 2001. There also was no Google, GPS, social media, texting, Amazon or iTunes! How fast things change. I believe it up to professional photographers to carry the banner for the print! We know prints, we love prints and we should be the group that make sure memories are saved for future generations via the print!

I would love to talk about this with some more at the WPPI! Meet me in the Kodak Alaris booth #1235 at 1:30 PM on 3/7 & 10:30 AM on 3/8