Some Assembly Required: Colleen Woolpert’s TwinScope Viewer

This series focuses on those who take the making of pictures a step or two further, creating their own photographic tools.

TwinScope Viewer

Colleen Woolpert, Kalamazoo, MI

Colleen Woolpert loves stereographs—small cards containing a pair of nearly identical photographs that create the illusion of a three-dimensional image when viewed with a stereoscope. Coincidentally, Woolpert is half of an image pair in real life, and her identical twin has a visual impairment that affects her depth perception. When Woolpert first began experimenting with stereographs she presented the work with traditional matting and framing. She searched for a stereoscope viewer to add an interactive element when experiencing her work but wasn’t able to find any. Undeterred, she developed the TwinScope Viewer one insomnia-ridden night in 2011.

Woolpert used gaffer tape and foam core to create the first model of the TwinScope Viewer. Countless design, engineering, and fabrication challenges later (and with the help of many people) she is now in production. A work of art in itself, the TwinScope Viewer measures 7 x 4 x 4 inches and is available in walnut or mahogany. The design is inspired by binoculars, the Eames Lounge Chair, and the Victorian Holmes stereoscope. Aside from using the laser cutter across town, Woolpert fabricates every part of the Viewer in her kitchen’s breakfast nook. There she casts rubber eye caps, sands and finishes wooden lens boards, modifies the hardware, and assembles the final product. Each TwinScope Viewer takes up to 18 hours to make.

The viewer fits easily over eye glasses, and hangs on the wall with a custom bracket. What began as a solution to Woolpert’s own exhibition display dilemma has taken on a life of its own and has been used in museums as a hand-held viewer for loose stereographs, acquired by collectors, cultural institutions, and most importantly, helped her twin sister to develop depth perception.

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View more of Woolpert’s work on her website.

Have you made or modified your own photographic equipment? Let us know at info@donttakepictures.com