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.
The film has been replaced by a laser drilled, metallic sheet and through a sensor placed in the camera mount, the flash of the Image fulgurator is triggered by other cameras in the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”.
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.
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“.
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?
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.
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