Some Assembly Required: Kwanghun Hyun

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

Photo made from Heartbeat camera.

Kwanghun Hyun, Seoul, Korea

The element of time plays an important role in photography. We commonly think of cameras as machines that record fractions of seconds, but pinhole cameras are known for their long exposures. Time unfolds in front of the lens ranging from a few seconds to several hours or even days as light passes through the tiny aperture. Interested in photography’s relationship with time, artist and craftsman Kwanghun Hyun developed a series of brass pinhole cameras that use watch mechanisms to control the length of exposure.

He calls these cameras the Heartbeat series—a reference to the pulsing of the balance in the watch mechanism. The small brass box is comprised of plates, rings, and knobs that Hyun machined himself. A modified Unitas 6497 watch movement is mounted to the front of the camera. The movement’s mechanical workings are visible next to the 0.3mm pinhole, and crown protrudes from the side to be wound manually. Once wound, the Heartbeat functions like any other film camera; the photographer sets shutter speed and then presses the shutter release to expose the 135mm film. The watch movement acts as an internal timing mechanism, closing the shutter after the allotted time. The resulting photographs have the soft qualities often associated with pinhole photography. Masterfully crafted, the Heartbeat is itself a work of art.

Heartbeat camera

View more of Hyun’s work on his website.

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