It stands on a wide plain in southern England. A circular formation of a collection of colossal stones. These are the pieces to the puzzle that has been mystifying historians and archaeologists for years. Although Stonehenge is mostly agreed to once have been a burial ground, we are yet to determine what other purposes it served to the civilisation which produced it…
This is a relatively standard introduction to Stonehenge, perhaps one that might be read when perusing a tourist information brochure. Barack Obama, David Cameron and a group of WWE wrestlers are among the 1.3 million people to have visited the prehistoric monument in 2014, in the same year as a new £27 million visitor centre was opened as part of a Stonehenge Environmental Improvements Programme instituted by English Heritage. It is this legacy aspect of the site which has taken the interest of Ziv Schneider. The whole business of attracting, accommodating, and entertaining tourists at Stonehenge has potentially been around for nearly four and a half thousand years; tests on a man buried nearby around 2300 BC have revealed that he grew up in central Europe. Other men buried in the area originated at least as far away as Wales. Could these have been among Stonehenge’s first tourists?
When initially coming into Schneider’s environment, these dark, silhouettes of tourists become apparent; shadows cast by the sun. However, what primarily appeared to be murky shapes produced by a body coming between rays of light and the surface of the grass is in fact the rocks of the site transfigured to mimic the shadows of visitors. Inspecting the figures, who have become the very thing they’ve travelled so far to see, creates a sense of time passing. We associate shadows with time since they were given a purpose via the invention of the sundial. As the location is spun the shadows grow and shrink, just as they do outside of the screen. Yet the visitors are bound by their new form, time passing all around them while they stand still, frozen in the moment.
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Ziv Schneider is a New York based new media artist and designer working with emerging technologies at the intersection of documentary, video games and volumetric photography.