ARCHIVE / p1 / p2 / 2011
Posted 13 April, 2011

through my remakes and redesign, i aimed to continually reduce the holga 120 camera to it’s basic ideologies with attention paid to it’s user culture and historical context. rather than a series of traditional products, i have tried to create a sort of photographic awareness campaign consisting of designed objects that can be created at home using increasingly available personal fabrication methods. since these files are all made available as free downloads, commercial viability can come from selling advertising on the site or seeking a corporate sponsor (i.e. holga, nikon, etc.). the objects can also be send off to shapeways/ponoko by the user, making them widely available.

as the lo-fi nature of the holga effects the results so dramatically, it has come to be seen as a hackable product. as it has transformed from a novelty gift to a cult icon, enthusiasts have taken to making edits to their cameras to personalize the results.

a modern adaptation of this would be applying it to the domestic 3d fabrication movement and releasing the camera as a downloadable cad file. buyers can then modify and print their camera locally. in this system, the user would be able to adapt the product to change specifications such as proportions, scale, colour and (to some extent) materials.

my prototype is made on a makerbot from abs because it ties in with both the original characteristics and the domestic fabrication aspect — it is a practical, serviceable and affordable machine that already has an accessible network in place. also, it runs on an open-source platform in much the same way as the downloadable camera eventually would.

holga form is lasercut from 3mm material — bamboo ply suggested. the form had to be simplified a bit due to the constraints imposed by a material thickness of 3mm and the 2d nature of lasercut products. as a result the filleted edges, chamfered body and top detail where the flash would be have all been removed. the lens has been constructed from 3mm sections, changing the topography slightly.

the product is designed to be cut out domestically (in the future, mostly) or outsourced to a company such as ponoko. assembly is made possibly by the diagram shown here. cuts are irregular to both replicate the lo-fi aspect of the original and introduce more of a puzzle-like feel to the assembly.

redesign takes the idea of a camera functioning as a fun, novelty product that captures a primitive image heavily influenced by the technically poor construction. final product is presented instead as an instructional poster documenting how to make a pinhole camera from a single piece of photo paper.

Posted 12 April, 2011


aforementioned toothy bits are coming along nicely on this one, finally realised that lining them up in illustrator and drawing alternating boxes was the easiest way to get everything to match. just have to finish up the last few boxes then trace the outline of the whole thing and send it off to the cutter. i just remembered that there are also a couple of small parts that would be needed to make it work, so had better get onto them tonight too.

justification for this material choice is that the original holga was made to use the cheapest and most available materials with minimal manufacturing costs. the lasercut bamboo ties in with this by using a massively prolific material (designed and manufactured in china) which is also cheap and, in a modern twist, highly sustainable.


this feels like a complete cop out, but i can explain. this stemmed from the suggestion to build what i find to be the ideal camera. over the last 100 years, the only real changes in cameras have been the form gradually becoming more rounded and the introduction of plastic casings to reduce cost. to me this standardized form is a good thing, as it minimizes the transition period between models. for example, every professional-grade nikon in the last 15 years has the same basic form and layout. any major departures from this would be more inconvenience than improvement: a mass production design along these lines would be pointless.

there are two things that i like about the holga — the minimal list of functions and the simplicity of its construction. the idea of a product being customized by the user ties in with both of these things, as there are very few parts to break. it’s sort of a step up from lego.

as the lo-fi nature of the product effects the results so dramatically, the original holga has come to be seen as a hackable product. as the product has transformed from a novelty gift to a cult icon, enthusiasts have taken to making edits to their cameras (including fixing the film tension, taping up light leaks and swapping out the lens) to personalize the results. this is my precedent.

a modern adaptation of this would be applying it to the domestic 3d fabrication movement and releasing the camera as a downloadable cad file to be modified and printed locally by the user. in this system, the user would be able to adapt the body to change specifications such as proportions, scale, colour and (to some extent) materials.

i’m printing this on the makerbot out of abs because the lo-fi aspect ties in with both the original characteristics and the domestic fabrication aspect — it is a practical, serviceable and affordable method that already has an accessible network in place. it runs on an open-source platform in much the same way as i would hope the downloadable camera would.

remeasured the components to get more detail than the laser file used (dimensions for that were rounded to 3mm because of the material thickness).

renders of .stl replica of the holga

first print of the replica file, done at 3:1 scale. first photo illustrates general surface quality while second shows the back, which is pressed smooth by the build platform. you can also see how the chamfer on the back causes problems with overhanging material. as scale is increased, proportional size of the print marks drops.


the redesign works with the idea of the product shaping the results and applies it to pinhole photography. the camera is folded entirely from photographic paper, creating fold lines and overlaps in the photograph.

[simulated results]

started work on the poster, it’s coming along pretty well -– just need to add in the specific parts regarding panoramic/3d functions. the prototype is going to be very rudimentary, so the poster was more as a means of explanation of the redesign as a system rather than a specific object. i quite like it though, so will add in others if i end up with time.

Posted 2 April, 2011

at the moment it’s looking like i’m doing a remake made from laser-cut bamboo ply. it’s going okay. looks like it could work and all, would just need to add a replica of the ratchet in the original film advance, find a couple of lenses (vf and lens) and sort out the shutter.

so far the lens pieces are sorted out and the body is all mapped out with what has to attach to what. all that’s left to do is add in the toothy bits to connect together. assembly would just be a matter of slotting together the case with a bit of glue and spraying the internals black to seal the light before attaching the advance and lens/shutter assembly.

the definite (hopeful) redesign is going to be an origami box made from photo paper. is contained in a black plastic bag, taken out and punctured when it’s time to be used. put it back in the bag and unfold into developing agent and it should make for an interesting print. need to do a proper test of this soon — there’s a chance it won’t work.

for now though, i made a cube from a 5x5in piece of paper (i have 7x5 photo paper) and got this guy — it’s about 30mm^3, which is a neat portable size and gives a similar size print to those disposable polaroid cameras you used to be able to get.

fold lines with shaded areas denoting areas exposed directly to light. heavy outline is the net of the box. a^2 = 16x^2, therefore cube dimensions to sheet dimensions are 1:4. this had a theoretical edge length of 31.75, so the difference will be imprecise folding and measuring.

shaded area denotes inside area that will be reactive to light. idea is that the user can poke holes in the sides they want to be exposed and have several photos documenting the surroundings of the cube. in the current setup, these would be in a recognizable cube net with only

peter peri, "kaiseraschern" (2005)

i’d like to have something a bit more abstract in how the photos are broken up, maybe a bit like this. will be looking at more patterns for folding and alterations to change the layer order.

second redesign idea is a bit hard to explain, i’ll do a render tomorrow and, if it works, put it through the techno router. the idea is a digital version where the form comes from the misrepresentation and distortion of the images. some sort of tessellated mess with lots of router marks. i think it could be pretty, but not sure how it fits in with the theory. might look a bit more serious than the other toy-like ones, too. we’ll see what happens.

Posted 27 March, 2011

started looking into the background of the camera used in previous experiment. designed by TM Lee in 1981 and manufactured for a domestic market in china. exported to hing kong in 1982 and eventually took off when it reached the rest of the world.

takes design cues from the diana camera of the 1960’s, while also fitting in with the pictorialist revival. manufacturing costs were kept to a minimum, resulting in the simple lo-fi form that it is now famous for. low manufacturing budget also resulted in an idiosyncratic image style — meniscus lens and slightly glossy plastic with a transparent red window are the technical elements that give rise to this. vignetting comes from the square crop format piece. this was initially scrapped in favour of a 2:3 mask that didn’t have the darkening effect, but was reintroduced when they realised users preferred the 1:1 crop.

120 format film was chosen as bw rolls of this were the most readily available in china at the time it was designed. there have subsequently also been 110 and 135 models. cameras can be easily adjusted to accept smaller film than designed.

from a marketing perspective it follows in the steps of the diana, being sold as a novelty gift item, a toy, or a tool of the pictorialist revival. the cult following has happened as it rebells against the high-tech trend of most cameras, giving the user all they need to record a moment.

there are several common edits that are preformed by consumers:

• internal components painted matte black to minimize internal reflections

• taping the whole body together to cover light leaks and avoid clip failure

• red cover on back covered over to reduce light leaks

• card/foam/felt installed to improve film tension

• if an improvement in quality is not desired, the lens can be swapped out in favour of a pinhole.

i like the idea of a camera that simply does all that is necessary for a record to be made, and i like the signature style that such cheap components give, but i feel that in some regards the low budget has impacted negatively on the product: the lack of ergonomic consideration does not encourage use (also, the cheap plastic dulls the experience), and the clips are a major problem — as the weight of the camera pulls down, it releases itself from the strap. as the camera falls to the ground, the back also falls off. this ruins the film.

Posted 23 March, 2011

process for p2a, the explosion bit. the object used is a holga 120gn. shutter assembly and hotshoe adapter were both melted into place during manufacturing, so had to leave them in existing housing. otherwise, i think it went pretty well.

started with the parts, making them all separate and stuff and setting them up on the page

next up drew all the parts in to give a 1:1 drawing of how all the components fit together.

played with ways of displaying the camera on the page.

close-up of above arrangement

final layout. ended up leaving the components disassembled as a continuation of the toy aesthetic — the diagram gives the user all necessary information to assemble or disassemble the camera themselves.

Posted 23 March, 2011

images of final bamboo objects:

bamboo concrete created by grinding husks and passing through a sieve to use as a sand substitute in a concrete mix. mixed 1 part cement with 4 parts bamboo, with water to get the the usual consistency. slightly weird texture, and despite mixing for 30 mins couldn’t get it perfectly even. brittle, but very light. responded okay to casting, depended on how well mixed it was though — some edges held much better than others.

bamboo lamp created by crushing and splitting bamboo in such a way as to make it hold an incandescent bulb. nodes were removed with a piece of piano wire in an air tool, making lengths up to two metres possible. chose it as a cheap and renerable housing that does now stand out from the surrounding greenery. utilizes tensile strength to keep the lamp upright at all times.

bamboo table was laser cut from bamboo ply. form is taken from one of the earlier experiments where crushed bamboo was stretched laterally. showcases bamboo as a renewable substitute for wood — it is not identifiable unless you look closely and can see the nodes where a wood would have knots.

Posted 8 March, 2011

all the suppliers who emailed us back have ran out of material, but we heard that there was some in kelburn… it wasn’t very thick but at least was fresher than other stuff.

took the shoots back to uni and started to process it into separate parts: the main shoot, husk, side-shoots and leaves.

stripped down to straight shoots, with leaves and husk removed.

leaves — someone else wanted these for a perfume experiment. also tried weaving.

tested the strength of woven leaves. using the centre section with the main vein running though (L) resulted in a far greater strength than without (R), but didn’t seem to posess any useful qualities.

stripped off all the husk for other experiments. in the correct climate, the shoots grow so quickly that this doesn’t really form. we remove dit as waste product, but also tried making a mulch and a paste from it.

everything sorted out on the table. we have quite a lot of material.

bent one of the longer pieces to see where bends best and where the weakest section is. managed to get a ~7m section to almost have the ends touching. notice frozen positions and stupid faces as shoot snaps in the second image.

sawed into sections, as the raw length is too long to work with — even turning around is a logistical exercise. cut through the nodes, as these are the strongest points that seem to cause problems. more dry sections split extremely easily, though the fresh segments were a bit easier to work with.

single experiments — 1. tying in a circle to test flexability, then untied and branch returned to an almost-straight form. 2. the freshest shoots at the top are very brittle and have little strength or flexability. these can be removed as waste material. 3 .split into individual fibres to test strength. very labor intensive and unplesasant on hands. lots and lots of splinters. left overnight to let it dry a bit before working with it and found that it turned very brittle. 4. tried soaking the husks to make a pulp that could possibly be moulded. left overnight to no change. ended up aborting the experiment. will try grinding and mixing with glue.

when cut in half, the insides revealed a white pulpy substance. as it seemed to not posess enough mass in it’s raw form to be of any use, tried to soak it in water and make a pulp. thickens nicely but needs some glue to properly maintain a form.

crushed a length in a vice and hammered out flat. gave an attractive finish though the lack of precision in how it’s split meant that a lot of the fibres were crushed, limiting strength massively. would have to saw or cut to get a better result.

testing the crushed material from above — nodes were the weakest point. without any substantial mass (L) or the integrity of the fibrous structure (R), the material was almost useless.

my favourite of the experiments. tried crushing to varying degrees and playing with inward pressure. with few splits the results were imprecise and unattractive, with the flex taking up the whole section between nodes. with more cuts though, more flexability was available due to the lack of tubular sections and it gave quite an attractive result.

testing a roughly crushed section (2D) for lateral stretch. possessed good elasticity, though the material degraded quickly. the form would be good made out of a plastic or tough rubber though.

Posted 5 March, 2011

got some ply and laminate. it’s very flexible and likes to be laser cut.

Posted 2 March, 2011

found these images from indonesia, based around strips of bamboo veneer. was happy to find some more experimental examples rather than the earlier traditional product-based stuff. the first one iwth the strips is really nice and seems to relate to the genesis of the material, though both create interesting effects. there’s a bit more information at the original site here.