Some Assembly Required: Kiel Johnson’s Giant Cardboard Camera

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

Twin lens reflex camera made of cardboard.

Twin lens reflex camera made of cardboard.

Kiel Johnson, Los Angeles, CA

Kiel Johnson is a Los Angeles-based sculptor. Handmade, hard work, and having fun are central to his practice and he embraces the idea of work as play. Interested in making a piece of art that makes art, Johnson created a cardboard model of a twin lens reflex camera. Standing three feet tall and with incredible attention to detail, the sculpture is a function camera (although a pinhole rather than a twin lens). The photographs were made director to color paper with a 20 to 30 second exposure.  

Using only cardboard and tape, Johnson spent three evening sessions crafting the camera while videographer Theo Jemison filmed the process. Jemison’s video is a clever combination of stop-motion and time-lapse. Johnson felt that making a video about the making of the art added to the cycle and successfully demonstrated what he considers the fun part of art-making—the actual making.

View more of Johnson’s work on his website.

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