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Golan Levin And Pablo Garcia Want To Create A 21st Century Camera Lucida

The artists are launching a Kickstarter campaign to bring this drawing device back from the dead.

by Kevin Holmes
08 May 2013, 2:51pm

Camera lucida is a drawing tool that artists have used down the ages. It's a device that reflects the desired object that you wish to draw through a prism onto a surface so you can then trace it, aiding (it's not cheating) an artist with their image. They've long fallen out of fashion and have been lost to the passage of time and the steady march of technological progress. Well, at least to the majority of people anyway.

But now artists Golan Levin and Pablo Garcia are raising it from the dead with a new portable, low-cost ($30) version that they're seeking funding for on Kickstarter. It's called the NeoLucida and it brings back a tradition of portable camera lucidas that has been dormant for over a century.

NeoLucida prototype

Although part of the reason they're doing it is so people can use it to help them draw, they also have other motivations. "Our NeoLucida is not just a product, but a provocation." they say. "In manufacturing a camera lucida for the 21st century, our aim is to stimulate interest in media archaeology—the tightly interconnected history of visual culture and imaging technologies."

NeoLucida prototype

And they're calling the piece an "intervention" rather than a business, which means they'll only be a limited number available to buy. But after that they'll be open sourcing the design details online so anyone can have a go at making one.