Initial Insight

Originally my research was based on photography. I was interested (and still am) in looking at the role which film media has in an ever evolving digital environment (particularly Martin Lister’s concept that film based images will become a much more poignant and reflective tool). However whilst taking photos at a VW show I had a dramatic swerve of direction.

The camera I was using was a Diana F+ a plastic device based on, and not greatly deviating from, the original 1960’s design.

The camera is made using plastics (including the lens) as used in the Far Eastern toy industry. Originally designed as a novelty item the poorly constructed body, inaccurate viewfinder, and plastic lens combine to give the camera it’s characteristic light leaks, soft focus, and vignettes. This means that the resulting photographs are subject to beautiful haphazard elements that are beyond the control of the user, giving it a unique aesthetic and appeal.

The experience of using that camera forced me to focus much more on the process of capturing an image; each manual focal length, every crop and angle was considered with more care than I would of normally taken with a digital camera. On reflection I think it was a kind of eager and optimistic “Flow” state as described by Csíkszentmihályi.

As a result when the photographs were developed they became much more than just a recorded image but were a kind of artifact, a physical and tangible thing with an aesthetic all of their own, partly my hand and partly a collaboration of these uncontrolled and unique variables.

But it was the flow like state generated by this process that I became fascinated by, the removal of a digital viewfinder which led to greater concentration, engagement and ultimately a more rewarding sense of pleasure in the activity. I started to wonder how this feeling could be recreated, how a tool might be developed to encourage this sense of “Flow” and what would be the main components?

The Start.


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