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The close-up camera is designed to create images which stand in contrast to the eirenic images I pursue elsewhere.
It is a sculptural piece which will also be a working camera. The camera is a box camera, with focus set, for a lens of 210mm focal length, at about 3 feet from the front of the camera. The camera will be fixed into a steel framework, holding a grid at the point of focus. The grid will be 26" by 19", and will hold the person being photographed in position. The grid will thus appear in every shot, in exactly the same position, only the body parts held against the grid will change from shot to shot.
The piece has several references: first, the early days of photography when, because of slow materials, portraits took several minutes to make. Sitters were kept from moving by having their heads clamped in position. Second, mugshot cameras designed to photograph people who have been arrested, with the camera fixed, and a standard position for the subject to sit or stand. There have also been a number of similar cameras designed for forensic use, where the camera and a supporting framework provided a fixed distance, thus ensuring focus.
The piece plays with the idea of fetish photography. The camera itself, in its fixed mounting, has a sinister presence, as if it belongs in an interrogation room. The fixed position of the model carries overtones of bondage scenarios. But the fetishism is most marked in relation to the camera, not the model. Like any fetish photography, the piece raises questions about consent and coercion, but these questions arise directly in relation to the process of being photographed, not to any 'scene' being created apart from the camera.
Beyond this, the camera allows me to frame and isolate separate sections of the body, building up a map of the figure which is inseparable from the grid against which the body is held.
The camera will have a panoramic back, and take a paper negative 6x16" (a halved sheet of 12x16 printing paper). It will also have a 5x7" back for standard sheet film. A 5x7 sheet allows me to image the complete grid at 1/3 size.
As far as building the camera is concerned, the great bulk of the work has been in designing and building the panoramic filmholder and back. The sketches and scale drawings which have been produced while working on the filmholder and back are part of the piece, with their own obsessive, gridded quality.