Jo Babcock as an Inventor Photographer

“You’ve made a mistake. I don’t want to be an artist. I want to be a photographer!”          Jo Babcock

Jo Babcock - Headshot  I recently read a fascinating photography book by Jo Babcock called, “The Invented Camera, Low Tech Photography & Sculpture.” It doubles as photography and sculpture since this inventor made his own pinhole cameras out of found objects. Then he took photos that matched the theme of the camera. It is quite an innovative double photographic subject. He even turned a van into a large format camera. There is a video of this van in action from November 2008. Just click the link below.

VW Van Camera by Jo Babcock

Jo and his friend converted an old Volkswagen Beetle van into a portable large format camera. “We blocked out the windows, side doors area to hold the pinhole aperture and built a double, light baffle into the back hatch so we could set the camera up, pin the light sensitive paper to the far wall, Our aperture was too small and the exposures usually took four hours but we did get a couple of color, negative prints to work.” (Malone). During the 1980s, Babcock got deeply involved in large scale photographic projects.

San Francisco in the early ‘80s was roaring with performance, installation and conceptual art. (Malone). “In 1986, I got a bright idea and with a buddy, I organized and produced a huge, multi-site show called, The HOTEL PROJECT. About sixty artists participated at an old hotel in West Oakland.” (Malone). Each had their own room to produce whatever art they wanted. This is also when he started using suitcases converted to pinhole cameras and photographing motels. He continued this trend by converting old objects into pinhole cameras. For instance, he converted an old log cabin syrup tin into a camera and took a picture of a log cabin. This accumulated into a body of work that eventually led to his book The Invented Camera (2005).

The Invented Camera - Low Tech Photography and Sculoture - Jo Babcock - 2005

Log Cabin - Jo Babcock

Catching Light :: Making Cameras with Artist Jo Babcock

Jo Babcock Photography