In the digital age, we don’t usually give much thought to how cameras work. They’re just another magic sensor inside of our glass rectangles. In an attempt to help us understand how cameras work, artist Kelli Anderson created This Book Is A Camera, a pop-up book that, when opened, transforms into a working analog black-and-white camera.
If you’ve ever made a shoebox camera as a kid, you probably already have an understanding of how simple cameras work. Essentially, you take a light-proof box, poke a small hole in the front, and insert a piece of photosensitive paper. The images that are produced aren’t pretty–everything in them is equally focused, very low-resolution, and in black-and-white. Still, they give you a good appreciation of the theory of cameras: that a single beam of light contains loads of information that can be focused with a lens and frozen for posterity, as long as you can separate it from the untold trillions of other light beams.
This Book Is A Camera is a streamlined, papercraft version of the pinhole camera. But it’s also a sort of infographic about cameras, explaining their physics and their parts.
According to Anderson’s extensive blog post about the project, This Book Is A Camera is part of a series of projects aimed at deconstructing technology to make it relatable to lay people. “For the past few years, I’ve been trying to better understand forces at play in the analog world through a process of subtraction,” she writes. “To do this, I’ve been disassembling everyday tools, stripping off their normal interface, and reducing them down to their functional minimums.”
This Book Is A Camera can be purchased online here.