Petroglyphomat: Messages on Stone

The Petroglyphomat is a positive vandalism machine which is the result of Lorenz Potthast’s bachelor thesis “Communication with the Future” at the University of Arts, Bremen. It works as a mobile, computer operated milling machine, that can send messages to a distant future by engraving them into ancient monuments.

The concept of the Petroglyphomat is a strategical reaction to the technical and financial boundaries which normally limit the possibilities to communicate a message to the future. The idea is to use long existing, important places which most likely will also exist for a long time in the future as infrastructure and expand them with a new communication layer. The machine creates snapshots of our increasingly digitalized environment by converting pixel-based, iconographical symbols into modern stone engravings (petroglyphs).

The Petroglyphomat is the outcome of a detailed research which is documented in the accompanying book “Communication with the Future”. On a theoretical level the book investigates the historical formation of the concept of a future and the origin of the human desire for perpetuate existence . Also it analyzes existing attempts to conserve communication for a long time, gathers the thoughts and conclusions which led to the concept of the Petroglyphomat and documents its development and usage.

The whole project offers a substantial theoretical background and an experimental approach for practical philosophizing about the connection between tradition, transience and our understanding of past, present and future.