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  • Melissa Ngige

My Symbolic Camera

Updated: Apr 29, 2020


The symbolic camera was a small art project as part of the module which gave me a head start on what I wished my film to be about. However, at the time, I had no idea what kind of ethnographic film I was going to make. As we were shown exemplars of other cameras that people had made, this gave me an insight into how I wanted to model my camera. I had a debated about particular topics that I wanted to base my film on; however, nothing concrete. As my lecturer Mike had given as some samples of past symbolic Cameras, I decided to base my metaphorical camera on a Fujifilm X-T10 as I felt was the easiest to replicate. It was at that point where I decided to venture to the gift store to purchase some wrapping paper. I chose I specifically chose two types of vibrant wrapping paper as I wanted my symbolic camera to be bright and stand out. As I was piecing together my camera, it then dawned on me that I would make my film about people. I was explicitly obsessed with the topic of identity. The differing wrapping paper in the lens and the actual camera itself intended to reflect the complexity which surrounds the concept of identity and how intricate it is. Within the wrapping paper, there are different patterns and shapes which can reflect how intricate our identity is. Our identity is so much more than our ethnicity, name or race. One of the most exciting things that we did in my Visual Anthropology class was bringing our symbolic cameras to the lecture. Our lecturer then instructed us to go outside in groups of two and take pictures of people or film them using our metaphorical cameras. At first, it was quite nerve-wracking as we would not know how serious people would take us. But the experiment turned out to be a lot better than anticipated. Lots of people thought that it was a real Camera and took and were fascinated with the idea behind the camera.






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