‘Be fast, don’t think, be open-minded towards your environment, absorb everything, collect and enjoy being communicative!’ Lomo mantra
Lomography – Is it a science? Is it a religion? No, it’s “an artistic approach to photography” using analogue film which started out in the Vienna underground scene and has now “developed into an international socio-cultural movement”. On Thursday last week, the first UK shop opened in Newburgh Street, (just behind London’s Carnaby Street), a fitting home for these plastic retro-feel analogue cameras, and associated products. Followers, we’re told, include creative icons such as David Byrne, Laurie Anderson, Underworld, Moby, Nabayoshi Araki, Daft Punk, Bady Minck and the Leningrad Cowboys.
Judging from the dedication it must have taken for the team to plaster the walls, which are fetchingly arranged into groups to form a lomosaic (see, they’ve got me at it), and the enthusiasm of the few lomographers I chatted to at the shop’s opening, it seems that lomography is a lifestyle, or at least it’s being positioned as one.
Beneath the surface, lies a creative premise: “(B)ased on the playful combination of lo-tech and hi-tech and the amalgamation of a cultural institution with a commercial photographic and design company. And this approach has provided our Lomography movement with a very exquisite role in this age of global borderless (tele) communications wherever images, language and text are involved.”
But how much of this is publicity speak, and how much is the real deal, remains to be examined. Lomo sceptic Mark Hahn comments on the marketing strategy in a post, providing a counter view to the spin. Lomography is being branded as a hybrid creative culture; a fusion of punk DIY ethics played out in the world of cyber communication, of shooting analogue images and then using digital platforms to distribute. I haven’t used a Lomo yet, but as soon as I can get hold of one, I’ll give it a go and prepare to enter The Lomo Zone. There’s even a 10 Golden Rules of Lomography.
The Lomo philosophy
This is lifestyle photography with followers whose rallying call is The Future is Analogue. The initial idea was to take “as many photographs (Lomographs) as possible in the most impossible of situations possible and from the most unusual positions possible, and then to have them developed as cheaply as possible.
Lomography, lomographers and lomographs
The idea of Lomography which “encompasses an interactive, democratic, social, cultural, vivid, blurred and crazy way of life” using “photography as a creative approach to communicating, absorbing and capturing the world”. The people who take the pictures are known as lomographers and there are (so the PR says) “over 500,000 active members across the world”. And the photos, well, they’re called lomographs.
The early years
In the early 1990s the founders, students from Vienna, Austria, “discovered a small enigmatic Russian camera, the Lomo Kompakt Automat” in a shop in Prague, and “started a new style of artistic experimental photography.” Since then, numerous exhibitions, interactive projects, events and live visuals have been held and performed worldwide in galleries, museums, people’s homes, clubs, bars, shops, abandoned buildings, planetariums, factories or stations, and are accompanied by programmes of photo competitions and events with special visual and music performances.
The Lomography Gallery Store , see footage shot at the opening, will be holding workshops including:
Who is the Lomo Compact Automat? 3 October 2009 (2pm-5pm)
“Adam Scott helped compile the LC-A book which took no less than two years. Here he will tell you the whole story and nothing but the story! Oh and then he’ll take you out to shoot with the LC-A!” £5 admission includes loan of a camera and a roll of film.