Saturday, May 07, 2005

LOMO HISTORY LESSON

This is the legend of Lomo: Released in 1983 in the Communist-era Soviet Union, the Lomo Kompakt Automat (L-CA) was built for the large Russian population by the Leningradskoye Optiko Mechanichesckoye Obeyedinenie (LOMO) optics factory in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). Millions of L-CAs were sold -- its popularity was due to the camera's small size and sturdy design. But hardly a decade later the L-CA's attraction and production diminished as Soviet Communism began to dissipate and the proliferation of Japanese cameras flooded the market. It looked like the camera's time had come to drift off to obscurity and hide among thrift-store shelves.

This was not to be the case. Matthias Fiegl and Wolfgang Stranzinger, two Viennese art students, happened to be traveling in 1991 when they entered a thrift store in Prague and came upon a dusty L-CA. Deciding to purchase the cute black camera for fun, they began to take random shots of their life, not knowing how the film would develop. Surprisingly, the images displayed stunning colour and artistry unlike anything they had seen in other point and shoot cameras. They posted the photographs on their kitchen bulletin board (which they called a "LomoWall") and the Lomo movement was born.

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