Will a smokeless ashtray have relevance to the Los Angeles resident of 2093? Or will technological advances make ashtrays obsolete? Or for that matter, will smoking be obsolete?
Whatever the case, smokeless ashtray inventor Jeannette Orel thought her invention was a perfect object to include in a time capsule sealed last week at City Hall.
"It is a striking example of changed societal attitudes and behavior toward smoking in the 20th Century," Orel, of Westwood, wrote in an entry form.
Time Capsule for the 21st Century was an art project by the city's Cultural Affairs Department. The city invited residents to submit objects for the capsule and displayed the approximately 150 items in the City Hall Bridge Gallery for two months before packing them in an art crate last week.
The sealed, labeled crate will be kept in an art storage facility at the Municipal Art Gallery at Barnsdall Art Park for the next 100 years, when, officials hope, someone will open the capsule and re-exhibit the collection, said Michael Lewis Miller, the exhibit preparer.
"You just have faith that someone's going to recognize the value of it and that there's going to be someone like me, or those who submitted the stuff, to research it and exhibit it," Miller said.
Wanting to create an exhibit that involved the public, Miller said he originally wanted to display objects mailed in by residents.
The concept of storing the items was triggered by Miller's purchase of an antique trunk from a friend in the vintage clothing business. The trunk was filled with clothing, letters and other mementos of a woman who lived in the late 1800s, and Miller found himself caught up in this woman's history.
"I liked the idea of speaking to people in the future," Miller said.
The only restriction that Miller placed on entries was that items be kept to 12 inches high, 12 inches wide and 3 inches deep. Everything submitted was included in the capsule. Miller said he even received a few packages marked "Do Not Open Until 2093," which he reverently packed, unopened.
Many of the participants were artists who submitted original paintings, collages, photography and sculptures. But there were also people such as Barbara Joan Grubman of Woodland Hills, who sent in booklets, ribbons and other paraphernalia from a weight-reduction program.
Some entrants provided no explanation. K. Assadi of Long Beach sent a plastic bag, marked only with the date "11/26/92," that contained a turkey wishbone and trussing utensils. Jane Reynolds, a Santa Monica resident, sent a check, written for "One hundred million dollars."
Joyce Dallal, an artist who lives in the Fairfax area, submitted something that is personal, but not an original artwork. She sent in her autograph book from 1968, when she graduated from sixth grade.
"I never knew what to do with the book, but I didn't want to throw it away," Dallal said. "When I decided to submit it, I did go through and read it . . . and I did get a little sentimental. But I thought, 'How many times am I going to read it?' "