Vortographs – the Ancestor of the Kaleidoscope Filter


Before the advent of kaleidoscope lenses like the attachment for the LomoApparat 21 mm Wide-angle Camera, abstract photographers around the world had to hand make kaleidoscopic tubes to create surreal images.

The father of this experimental technique was Alvin Langdon Coburn; the first photographer to create a completely abstract photograph in 1917 called a Vortograph. He was a member of the famous collective Photo-Secession, the first influential group of American photographers whose work focused on establishing photography as a form of art, as well as a part of the Pictorialists movement.

Vortograph (1917) Alvin Langdon Coburn flickr
Alvin Langdon Coburn self-portrait, 1905.

Vortographs were born out of his encounter with Ezra Pound who introduced him to the philosophical school of thought of the vorticist - a group of British writers and painters that were influenced by cubism.

Hard shapes and geometric forms were the design choice for the group, and Alvin Langdon Coburn experimented with the same subjects in photography, creating the first completely abstract image. This technique was practiced almost uniquely by Alvin Langdon Coburn, however, it was a short-lived one, and after a few years, he abandoned the practice.

Credits: alexconnellyart, paolinegiroux, cou, pitstic2 & kylethefrench

A few decades later the need for abstract composition drove others to experiment with the idea of reflective surfaces placed next to your lens. The result creates patterns and distortion, which will render a kaleidoscopic new form. The principle is easy, a prism creates reflections that will mirror on your frame.

Wait a few years more, and Lomography decided to give film shooters a fun new accessory for our new camera, with the kaleidoscopic filter for the LomoApparat. The simple yet game-changing accessory is easy to attach to the front of your lens and instantly produces the mirroring effect.

Credits: stavard, oukrid, feifain, rocket_fries0036, foreman2graphy & sylvann

We love to challenge you to create abstract and cubist images, taken with this extra component. Light, compact and easy to click onto your lens, think like the father of abstract photography in your next composition!

Have you tried the kaleidoscope lens attachment yet? Share your photos with our community.

written by eparrino on 2023-03-12 #culture #surreal-images #vortograph #alvin-langdon-coburn #kaleidoscopic-experiments #early-analog-technique #collective-photo-secession

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