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#279 :: Camera Lens Mechanism

November 14, 2004

Fossil from an ancient era, the 20th century, when mass production gave birth to millions of mechanical devices for capturing light. This might as well be the marvelously preserved ocular bone process of a roving sextuped from a clockwork planet – so foreign is it to the modern world of CCD camera sensors, USB ports and digital red-eye reduction. It’s also a relic of a simpler time in my life, when I tore apart broken machinery as a kid, to see what made it work. My favorite part of any camera lens was always the leaf-iris – a lever-actuated blossoming rose of sharp, fragile metal that permitted light and life to enter and forbade it to leave. In another life, I’d have time to scavenge garage sales and flea markets for cast off Argoses and Kodaks, field-strip them with knife and screwdrivers and construct the alien watch-beast of my dreams. In another life, I built countless plastic car and airplane models, and later, rebuilt car engines. The process of reading hundreds of diagrams – cut-this-glue-this-pin-to-this-socket-insert-assembly-and-glue – left a subroutine looping in my hindbrain. The sight of any old-fashioned machine explodes in my mind’s eye, rendered into a cloud of ordered parts that hovers in space, numbers incandescing on little red indicator tags, ready for assembly.

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