Image Fulgurator

TITLE: Image Fulgurator
AUTHOR: Julius von Bismarck
YEAR: 2007/08
MEDIUM: photo camera, flash

DESCRIPTION: The Image Fulgurator is a device for physically manipulating photographs. It intervenes when a photo is being taken, without the photographer being able to detect anything. The manipulation is only visible on the photo afterwards. In principle, the Fulgurator can be used anywhere where there is another camera nearby that is being used with a flash. It operates via a kind of reactive flash projection that enables an image to be projected on an object exactly at the moment when someone else is photographing it. The intervention is unobtrusive because it takes only a few milliseconds. Every photo another photographer takes of an object at which the Fulgurator is also aimed is affected by the manipulation. Hence visual information can be smuggled unnoticed into the images of others.

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TECHNICAL DEVICES: Technically, the Image Fulgurator works like a classical camera, though in reverse. In a normal camera, the light reflected from an object is projected via the lens onto the film. In the Image Fulgurator, this process is exactly the opposite: instead of an unexposed film, an exposed and developed roll of slide film is loaded into the camera and behind it, a flash. When the flash goes off, the image is projected from the film via the lens onto the object.
Due to the similarity of the two processes, the Fulgurator looks like a conventional reflex camera. As soon as the built-in sensor registers a flash somewhere nearby, the flash projection is triggered. Hence the projection can be synchronized to the exact moment of exposure of all other cameras in its immediate vicinity. Via a screen (ground glass), it is possible to focus the projection and to position it on the targeted object.

Video of the first test of an image fulguration in public.

Context: This video shows an Intervention at the Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin. (former border of east and west Germany) The target of the manipulation was the famous “YOU ARE ENTERING THE AMERICAN SECTOR” – sign. The manipulation created a link from the former East / West border to the US / Mexican border in order to reimagine the dramatic situation at worldwide borders today. The message was addressed to the tourists on location, that can travel easily over every border without risking their life.

Short Documentary about Julius von Bismarck and his Image Fulgurator.