Experiments with the Vortoscope, 06 April 2023

Experiments with the Vortoscope, 06 April 2023

I'm doing the Frugal Film Project this year: One year, one camera, one film. I chose to use an Agfa Clack (always wanted one and it was cheap at the Kamerastore, at 29€) and Fomapan Retro 100. 'Traditional' black and white was a bit of a  departure for me, but it was 4,80€ a roll so it fit in nicely with the theme of the Project. 

Anyhow, to cut a long story short, for April's entry I made a Vortoscope. But what is a Vortoscope, you might ask? Put simply, a Vortoscope is a triangle of mirrors that when viewed through it fracture and reflect an image. It was pioneered by the American artist Alvin Langdon Coburn in the early twentieth century as a part of the English Vorticist movement. Vorticisim, 'rejected landscapes and nudes in favour of a geometric style that was much more abstract' (https://boshamgallery.com/blog/28-what-is-a-vortograph-the-world-s-first-truly-abstract-photographs-were-made/) and the Vortoscope was Langdon Coburn's response to this. The name Vortoscope was coined by the poet Ezra Pound, a contemporary and friend of Alvin Langdon Coburn, and the image it produces as a Vortograph. 

I've been thinking about making one for a while, but never got around to it. Then I was reading about Alvin Langdon Coburn yesterday and discovered what he was doing a century ago. A couple of Google searches later and I was heading down the road for a cheap mirror and a glass cutter.

The Vortoscope I made was a triangle of mirrors 3cm wide and 15cm in length. On reflection (pun definitely intended) I need to make a new one with each edge 4cm in width, though the 15cm length should be fine. This was because the Vortoscope would not fit comfortably other the lens. If you are proposing to use larger lenses then you will need wider pieces of mirror and probably longer.

To use it, the Vortoscope is held over the lens of the camera and the image in the viewfinder is broken up, like a kaleidoscope, and presented as an abstract. It works great with lights and straight lines, but when I went outdoors the results were not as nice as I had hoped. 

#Cubism, #Art, #Abstract, #Photography. #ModernArt, #Surrealism, #Cubist, #Vintage, #Vortoscope, #Vortograph, #Vortism,