Bespoke Cameras

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Camera as Artifice

Cameras naturally carry the dual perception of being both a device to capture images of the world and a tool to aid an artist in achieving his or her vision of the world. In the first example, novices rely on presets of the device to make the photograph happen. In the latter, trained photographers first conceptualize the image they wish to create and then manipulate the device to achieve that vision.

However, when a trained professional throws off his or her learned skill and embraces the device for its own merit, the camera takes on a third state of being, becoming something more of a medium. With this perception of the camera, the device itself becomes the way in which an artist sees the world. It may still have controls that can be changed, but the denial of control allows the photographer to embrace the camera's eye. Through this act, the device now has but one purpose: to interpret the subject through a modified gaze. Therefore the camera is no longer a static device, nor a tool, it is now an artifice for the synthesis of both optical vision and the creative.

Since 1999 I have been involved in the process of building bespoke cameras, testing and using them for a time, then repourpsing the components on subsequent devices. Each time a camera is constructed there is a period of time in which I must learn to see how the lens sees - how it interprets light, form and time. Sometimes adjustments are made to the device to refine the image. while at others, the optics or mechanisms are made worse to achieve a particular artistic vision. This process of exploration recalls the earliest time in photographic history when inventors, artists and the curious were first attempting to fix light on a surface.