Thirty years ago, a camera was invented that would win the hearts of photographers and artists from around the world. Although it would never fulfill the purpose for which it was created, the Holga would be rapidly elevated to cult status amongst those who appreciate the aesthetic potentialities of a camera that produces completely unpredictable results.
Designed in 1981 by T.M. Lee of Universal Electronics, Hong Kong and first released in 1982, this small camera had large aspirations. With its minimal design and largely plastic construction, the aim was to make medium-format photography affordable for working-class families across China. However, the rapid adoption of the more consumer-orientated 35mm film format made the camera largely obselete before it had even left the drawing board.
Rather than fading into insignificance however, the Holga found a new audience of visual artists that would guarantee the production and development of the camera until the present day. It is the unpredictability of the Holga that so excites the creative mind. Light leaks, mis-focusing, warped film, internal reflections, wild vignetting and point-and-pray exposures all create unique results with every single shutter actuation.
This exhibition is a celebration of the unlikely success story of the Holga. Thirty years from it’s invention, Leeds-based photographer and educator Tom Jackson has taken the Holga back to it’s birthplace and captured a diverse collection of images. The Hong Kong depicted through these images is not the urbane tiger-economy of today and neither is it the military outpost of the Imperial dynasties. This is the city of the mind. Half-remembered locations and events; dream-like and atemporal. The camera reveals itself to be an unreliable narrator, assembling images that could have emerged any time in the last thousand years.
This collection is exhibited at Hand Made in Bradford from August - October 2012.
© Tom Jackson Photography