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Kickstarter of the Week: A Life-Size, Walk-In Camera

Fri, 02/15/2013 - 11:17am
Melissa Barnes, Associate Editor, PD&D

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When Daimler-Benz commissioned German physicist and inventor Werner Krause to develop a camera capable of recording the ignition process of the Wankel engine in the 70s, they had no idea it would result in a technological wonder. The standard optical lens systems of the time were incapable of capturing the ultra-fast processes within automobile engines. To make this feat possible, Professor Krause invented a special photographic system through the use of mirror optics. He was then able to scale the pictures to life size, without distortion. The technique also left out the traditional dark-room printing and developing process, as the image was captured on a special direct positive paper and developed immediately.


However, with the rise of the digital age, traditional analogue methods lost popularity, as did the producers of the special paper required for the camera. Thus, the IMAGO 1:1, also known as the IMAGOphotour, fell out of commission and was tucked away. When Susanna Kraus rediscovered her famous father’s invention, she was charmed by the massive steel structure and its entrancing process. She sought to revitalize the camera and refine its photo techniques. With the help of her two sons, the IMAGO 1:1 has been given a new life, as it is still up and running today, in Berlin, Germany. 


How IMAGO Works


The IMAGO is an analog camera equipped with a lens specifically designed for life-size photography. It is equipped with a light-painting optical device featuring a specially polished mirror structure of which only two specimens have ever been manufactured. This optical system projects a true-to-life 1:1 portrait onto a 60x200-cm-wide black-and-white direct positive paper.

In order to illuminate the subject with sufficient light intensity, power is generated by eight flash-guns. In hundredths of seconds, millions of photons are projected onto the photographic paper through a catadioptric system. Since the process does not generate any negative or digital copy, every image is a unique specimen. 

Technical Details

Camera:

  • Size: 7x4x3 meters.
  • Approximate weight: 700 kg (the original weighs 1.7 tons).
  • Material: aluminum, sheet steel, fiberglass, canvas.
  • Transport: continental via truck (7.5t), overseas via a shipping container (20 foot, ISO 6346 Standard).

Paper:

  • Size per portrait: 60x200cm (2x6.5ft).
  • Material: Direct Positive Paper by ILFORD.
  • Technique: direct exposure & standard black and white development.

The IMAGO is an analog camera equipped with a lens designed specifically for life-size photography. The device is much like a cross between a Poloroid and an oversized photo booth. The IMAGO’s subjects step into the camera, pose in front of a mirror, press the shutter release, and within 10 minutes the portrait is directly exposed onto the light-sensitive direct positive paper.


IMAGO’s Great Ambitions


The current IMAGO1:1 is the original camera that was produced in 1970. After its dusty hiatus and recent emergence, the camera is in need of a few improvements and repairs. IMAGO has already garnered the attentions of several artists and contributors from around the world, and now Susanna Krause intends to take it further. She wants to help fulfill her father’s dream of commissioning a mobile version of the IMAGO to tour the world with. Together, with her two sons and fellow project members, Ms. Krause is seeking the support of Kickstarter funding to complete a new, travel-proof IMAGO.


The new product will be almost identical to the original, being constructed of lightweight aluminum parts, sheet steel coating, a round fiberglass lens casing, and a foldable canvas roof. Since the IMAGO truly is a one-of-a-kind product, every component must be specially made. To make all this happen, IMAGO is seeking Kickstarter support. Each backer will in turn receive their own life-sized, one-of-a-kind, black and white analogue photo. Vouchers would be valid for use when the IMAGO visits a city near nearby.


To learn more about the IMAGO 1:1 visit http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1665987901/imagophotour-worlds-biggest-mobile-self-portrait-c?ref=category.

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