Can a Computer Generate Every Possible Photograph?

11th Feb 2013

Image Courtesy of Jeffrey Thompson

Can a digital projection really display every possible photograph? Artist and Assistant Professor Jeff Thompson thinks so. 

Thompson’s project, “Every Possible Photograph”, seeks to illustrate the fact that given adequate time, a computer process can create them all. 

With digital technology, all images are pixelated. Given a programme that runs a code to play out all possible pixel sequences, a computer can generate all potential photographs – one pixel at a time. At present, Thompson’s system is running between 200-300 images per minute. At this stage, the system is limiting its projections to black and white imagery.

But despite eliminating the spectrum of colours from the programme, just how long will take to go through every photograph? A recent posting by PetaPixel calculates 46,138, 562, 195, 008, 110, 600, 774, 753, 760, 087, 749, 172, 181, 189, 607, 929, 628, 058, 548, 517, 099, 604, 563, 033, 706, 075 years.

Thompson has highlighted the project in action, which can be viewed in the below clip. For more information, visit Jeffrey Thompson’s initial blog posting here

Every Possible Photograph - Documentation from Jeff Thompson on Vimeo.