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Cultural Probe, Wrapping Up

I’ve been waiting on lenses to show up so that I can make more bowl cameras like this one, but they’ve gotten lost in the mail, which is quite annoying. The one above has a pretty small lens in it, so it doesn’t get too much light. I do like that the lens, being so small, is mostly invisible from the engraved glass side. The lenses I’ve started using are jewellers loupes, they have a short focal distance and project a larger image than the lens in this camera, and they gather more light, which would be good.
I was going to lasercut MDF boxes and a package to mail to users, but I like how light and easy to hold the steel ones are. They are comfortable enough to hold in one hand steadily, at a comfortable angle, while looking at the surface, and take pictures of with the other hand, so long as the picture taking device is one-hand operated. Which is not how I feel about boxes of similar dimensions to the front face of the one above. That might be because I have small hands. The plan is to make five (or more… start with five) of them and give each one to a different person to live with for a while. I want to ask them to use them to record things by taking pictures of the image projected in them… I want people to use them to look, and I want to talk about what they choose to look at and why, and how it felt to try to use them.
Most of the cameras we interact with are pretty decent recording devices, at least when it comes to images, or sound and motion when it comes to video cameras, which, with smartphones, many of us now carry one around in our pockets all the time. Sometimes recording, judging, labelling and editing get in the way of experiencing. We publicly create and present ourselves, however, with the recordable bit of our experience, and a lot gets missed. I’d like to get people to use these objects, which are so bad at recording as if they were good at it, in order to have a more visceral experience of recording badly.
One theory of identity is that that we construct our identities out of what we remember of our past experiences, and our memories are terrible. Or, at least, mine is. We use a lot of technology to support our memories, creating the illusion that we have a comprehensive record. These devices, when used to record, make a record that is explicitly piecemeal.

So, It’s the end of the semester.

I’ve been focusing on making small objects this semester, objects that I think of as tools for remembering that things are complicated, and changeable and hard to bring into sharp focus. In the coming months, I’m planning to work on some larger objects, based on the projection discs that are found in things like the Edinburgh Camera Obscura, and also some “light boxes” that can be installed in windows.

Since I use Pintrest for all of the things, here are some boards of particular interest to studio:
Camera Obscura
Cameras
Paper Engineering
Tools
Optics
New Technology in Craft
Glass

Also, notes and things in progress, kiln schedules, etc, here in Evernote.

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