Image Fulgurator

A couple of years ago, german artist Julius Von Bismarck came to Barcelona to give a lecture at CCCB. He is the inventor of a device called Image Fulgurator, that is an analogical camera that has been turned into a flash by means of a lens. With the Image Fulgurator, Von Bismark is able to project any image on any surface, hence his flash is triggered when there is another camera with flash nearby.

Julius Von Bismarck © Julius Von Bismarck

The film has been replaced by a laser drilled, metallic sheet and through a sensor placed in the camera mount, the flash of the Image fulgurator is triggered by other cameras in the vicinity. Quoting the author , Image Fulgurator is “a device for physically manipulating photographs. It intervenes when a photo is being taken, without the photographer being able to detect anything. The manipulating is only visible on the photo afterwards”.

Fulgurator 2008 © Julius Von Bismarck

In theory it can be used at any time as long as there is another camera nearby using a flash. It projects an image on any surface at the exact same time that the other camera is taking a picture. This action takes only a few milliseconds and the image can “slip in” in other people’s photographs.

Fulgurator 2008 © Julius Von Bismarck

Von Bismark performs interventions with Image Fulgurator in events with important media coverage or in world emblematic locations. Like when he projected the dove of Magritte’s painting “L’Homme au Chapeau Melon” on the Mao Zedong portrait at the Tiananmen square. He also “fulgurated” pictures taken from pilgrims during Pope Benedict XXVI visit to Madrid, in collaboration with spanish artist Santiago Sierra. The latter had been awarded with the national arts prize Spain Fine Arts National Prize in 2010, but rejected it since, in his own words, he considered himself to be a “a serious artist“.

Fulgurator Mao © Julius Von Bismarck

No projection © Julius Von Bismarck

Photography, art or technic?

Photography is a mechanic art since it’s possible thanks to a “machine”, the camera, which we must know how to use. From it’s own etymology, photography means also writing with light. In the hands of an artist, that light will produce an art work or would be the means to an end in other applications.
Since this is a blog on lighting techniques, I thought it was appropriate to talk about the Von Bismark work and his conceptual discourse,, which personally like. But, would it be necessary to take abeautiful Minolta camera to pieces to get our own DIY Image Fulgurator?

Marcelo Isarrualde

A Fulgurator is in fact a slide projector with a flash light, instead of a continuos light. Dismantling the back cover of an analogical camera, and placing a slide where the film normally should go, you can make your own one. Another option is to use a box with similar characteristics, taking care of putting the lens bayonet at the exact same distance between the optical focal plane and the camera bayonet fitting. I wouldn’t have destroyed my beloved Nikon FM and F2A for this! Instead I put two slide boxes together with a Nikkor lens back cover.

Marcelo Isarrualde

Marcelo Isarrualde

Marcelo Isarrualde

This simple little box can project images on studio backgrounds the same way other devices like an Elinchrom Zoom Spot does with the gobos. But in a way more affordable way!

Marcelo Isarrualde © Marcelo Isarrualde

Marcelo Isarrualde © Marcelo Isarrualde

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4 thoughts on “Image Fulgurator

  1. Lovely article, thank you so much! I would really like to play with projected images, but the prices for the Elinchrom spots are way too high.

    I’ve got a couple of questions.

    1. You say “… taking care of putting the lens bayonet at the exact same distance between the optical focal plane and the camera bayonet fitting”. I guess you mean placing the slide at the focal plane – i.e.at the same distance from the lens bayonet as the distance in the camera between the lens bayonet and the film.

    2. What kind of flash bracket are you using – is it also DIY or is it something that I could purchase?

    Many thanks,

    Ed

    • 1. Yes ! At the same distance from the lens bayonet as the distance in the camera between the lens bayonet and the film !
      2. As it does not weight too much the box with the Nikkor lens I do not use any special bracket.

  2. Que grande maestro, estaba buscando como lograr este efecto, me enteré de los zoomspots y su precio y me descorazoné.

    Al rato pensé, esto ha de poder hacerse en casa, y llegué acá.

    Ya tengo el mio andando, gracias por pasar la info.

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