To emphasise the customisability of its La Sardina camera, Lomography has invited 25 creatives working in various styles to come up with their own individual camera designs. To the everyday snapper, the camera can be drawn and doodled upon, and the casing comes off so you can give it a different skin. However in the hands of people like Chris 'Howks' Howker, Cleo Ferin Mercury, Kirsty Mitchell and Felt Mistress, the lightweight 135mm film camera takes on a life of its own.
Street artist and illustrator Howks has done one of the most stunning customisations so far, turning the La Sardina he was sent into a silver CMYbot (above). "Like many people who grew up in the late-80s and early-90s, I used to watch my favourite cartoons and the advertisements for the various toy lines linked with the shows. I'd always nag my parents for the latest ones. So the CMYbot is my own little action figure of a robot spy character I made up - hence all the camera lenses on it for recording images and capturing secrets."
"I was going to make up a story, comic and animation, and a poster to go along with the character as part of its backstory, but other projects crept up on me," he adds.
The CMYbot will line up alongside other individualised cameras at three exhibitions staged by Lomography, starting in March 2013 at the Lomography Gallery Store on Commercial Street in East London. It'll move on to Soho in April and then Manchester in June. Playing on the camera's name, the exhibition is called Let's Play Sardines and will take on a hide-and-seek theme to mimic the Victorian parlour game 'sardines'. Depending on the venue the cameras may be hidden here and there and part of the fun will be locating them.
At the moment, though, the artists are still working on their creations. Felt Mistress has stitched up a lairy paparazzi character who'll use the camera, and fashion designer Cleo Ferrin Mercury has given hers a stylish illustrated makeover. Kirsty Mitchell has disguised the Lomo as an elaborate flower that looks quite incredible.
CMYbot: the making of
Meanwhile Howks' effort is both tactile and futuristic. "I took apart old disposable cameras, mobiles phones, a webcam, a microphone, a USB hub, fairy lights, and the cables are motorcycle brake lines hooked on a guitar machine head. The large lens in place of the flash unit was a working wide angle lens for an old digital camera of mine with a sensor and circuit board from a phone behind it. Of course I had to do some minor surgery on an existing toy robot for the donor legs and arms. All of the above coupled with some epoxy putty, sandpaper, power tools and spray paint has resulted in my silver CMYbot. It has inspired me to start more custom models," he says.
Check out some behind the scenes shots of his creation below...