After Exposure: A Cyclopedia of Broken Cameras
Book Review2 min read by
I learned about this book from Stephen Dowling’s website (Kosmo Foto) as he was helping me promote my own publication a few months back. It was a lucky find.
Nils Bergendal’s hardcover creation took years to become a reality. Born out of a retired master’s stash of camera parts on the way to the dump, it is a diary of human progress from a simple dark box with a lens towards auto-everything technological marvels/monsters of the XXI century.
After Exposure can be read as an essay, a reference, and as a photo book. In the first eight pages, Nils introduces his view of human existence as a machine that pumps out disposable products on the way to the dump, in use relatively briefly before becoming a landfill material. I found Nils’ introduction to be an honest depiction of how things are; despite the subject’s grim nature, the way he wrote felt neither nihilist nor depressing. Perhaps a little flowery but certainly not preachy.
I loved how Nils told the story of the person whose broken cameras decorate the pages of the book. A passionate apprentice who graduated to own one of the best repair shops in the country, unable to stop working even past the retirement age. His quotes regarding each piece, nestled below a brief camera history give valuable insights into each of the 62 photographic devices’ strengths and weaknesses.
The book is decorated with hundreds of pieces of depleted machinery beautifully. The unwrapping, and flipping through pages of thick uncoated off-white paper is a treat in itself. I love the simple, stylish hardcover, how it feels in hand and looks on the shelf.
My only knock on the construction of this book is that its thick outer shell can warp a little after spending a day in sweaty hands (I read it in a crammed airliner as it soared for hours towards my destination).
Alas, like everything else, this book will also become nothing eventually, as Nils points out early in his introduction. But before then, it will surely provide joy to its owners, I promise you that.