In 2002, a French Catholic Priest named Father François Brune wrote that a machine called a Chronovisor was held deep in the shadowy collection of the Vatican. Along with millennia worth of plunder from every conceivable culture on Earth, he alleged that the church has in its possession a device capable of viewing the past.
As described by Brune, the machine was built by an Italian scientist named Pellegrino Ernest and worked somewhat like a radio. It picked up and unscrambled ambient electromagnetic radiation emitted by events in the past, making them into a picture on a television screen. With the chronovisor, the inventor supposedly witnessed the crucifixion of Christ, along with many other events central to the Catholic worldview.
Though the Chronovisor is widely regarded as a hoax, the desire for photographic traces of past events is a recognizable, even relatable lust.¹ Whether documentary, evidentiary, or poetic, the promise that we will be delivered from some states of unknowing or ceaseless speculation by photographs is a tenuous belief.