With the next Curiosity Club less than a week a way, we came up with a few queries for our speaker, Kurt Mottweiler, to get an insight in to his work. Kurt meticulously designs and builds traditional, film-based cameras that range from the simplest, lensless, wooden cameras to fully computer-controlled, rotating panoramic cameras.
Kurt will be speaking next Tuesday, April 19th at the Hand-Eye Supply store in Portland at 6PM.
You work in both wood and metal to create your P.90 Pinhole Cameras. Are there any tools you find indispensable in your work?
I work with a range of tools and equipment much of which would be familiar to a typical woodworker or machinist and some of it to a mad scientist. But similar to the craft of luthery in which I worked, there are a wide variety of special tools, machines and equipment involved in craft-based camera making. Perhaps my favorite is the Swiss-made, Aciera F3 compound milling machine. I'm also slowly building a small CNC machine. I'll show images of a few others during the presentation.
Cameras have a chronological component in that they record a moment in time. Does that interest you and how does it affect your work?
Capturing a moment in time is a common thread throughout photographic history but the temporal aspect of photography takes on added significance when exposures are long, as in lensless photography, or when the image is built up by a slit scan over a period of time, as is the case with swing lens or rotating type panoramic cameras. In either case, time is accumulated in the image in a more pronounced way than in the typical range of photographic practice.
It is also interesting to me that the tools that I make are used by others to register their own significant moments in time thus creating a kind of continuous cascade of cracks in the unfolding of time.
A recent detour took me down yet another avenue in the marking of time and I will touch on that in the Curiosity Club presentation.
Can you speak about the evolution of your process as a designer mentioning specific milestones (past and forthcoming)?
I grew up with an autodidact father who had a wide range of interests many of which made a strong impression on me. From photography to sports car racing, the gamut of my resulting childhood experience no doubt played a big role in my creative process. (One early indicator might have been my habit of tagging along on my father's frequent visits to the magazine store where I grabbed the latest copy of Abitare and sat in a corner perusing Italian chair and luminaire designs.)
Subsequent college adventures bouncing between fine art, architecture and engineering combined with work experiences in the motorcycle business, custom furniture, architectural millwork and luthery trades are all factors which play a role in how I see the role of a designer/maker.
I'm presently slogging through a steep-learning-curve experience as an owner/plumber/electrician/carpenter on a small 1928 bungalow. I'm looking forward to the other side of that process so I can further explore the resource that a city as vibrant with design and maker activity as Portland is.
Please share with us five things you never leave home without and why.
Let's see . . . shoes, socks, pants, shirt, wallet . . .
Well, on a good day, with my brain in tow, my near-constant-small-grey-feathered-companion would make the list just because.
I try to carry a camera because there's just so much to photograph.
I usually have a writing/marking instrument in my pocket.
But after listening to Amber Case at the Curiosity Club it seems I might be able to leave everything else behind and just grab the iPhone.
I think that's five.
Are there any resources or links you'd like to share?
Since everybody already knows about Core77 and Eye Hand Supply:
wolframalpha.com - computational knowledge engine - we suspect Zane (the small grey guy) has been putting on the OZ s. He should weigh 12 of them to be average
strandbeest.com - life forms made of plastic tubing - who doesn't like Theo
ingo-maurer.com and arthurganson.com - design lyricism - two of my greatest sources of inspiration
photoeye.com - photography in print and online - my friend Rixon Reed is a creative business monster!
psfk.com - there are sO mAnY dEsIgN sItEs! - I like the tabloid news feel of this one
obscuranova.com and tichyfotograf.cz/en/ - two of my latest camera maker / photographer finds - make a way to inform your vision
Behind the counter at WC Winks - if you haven't been, it's worth getting the invitation