One of the always-great takeaways of visiting HOPE is seeing what’s on display at the vendor booths and adjacent art zone.
For me many of Tommy’s shots are familiar: bustling street scenes of NYC, nearby landmark buildings, subway staircases streaming with people in all directions. Typically these are the things we don’t pay attention to, don’t look at, don’t stop to watch.
Tommy began a few years ago with the first-gen Raspberry Pi – back when it didn’t even have a number trailing its name. He acquired one of the CSI-connector cameras (seen below velcro-strapped to the projector pole and left to dangle in space for this installation). Tommy taught himself how to initiate the camera, then how to take photos, eventually moving towards layering photographs. The resolution wasn’t great for print, but for looking at images on a screen it was a start – and at every stage of the process Tommy was teaching himself, and learning.
(You can imagine there’s a huge different between shooting on a Canon 5D Mark iii, for example, and the resolution you get from a Raspberry Pi Camera – it’s less about ‘quality’ and more about knowledge, and how things work.)
Fast-forward a few years and next-gen Pis have much more computing power, and can accommodate USB webcams with greater definition. All the while Tommy modified his code, inserting snippets along the way to handle edge bluring, timing, etc.
And for his setup at HOPE he also had a hacked USB keyboard attached to some small and large momentary buttons, to initiate an Epson PictureMate postcard-sized printer.
The current two-camera and multiple-image setup was projected onto a curtain – not flat, but you get the idea as you watch people walk by get captured, layered, and disappeared with the next timing sequence.
And that’s the lesson of this story. Don’t think about it, do it! The tech in a few years will probably be closer to what you want, but for now do what you can achieve. You can always change, modify, upgrade, amend, or even scrap-and-start-again. For Tommy’s setup all he really needs is nominal power, a pole, and whatever camera rig he wants to setup one day. And from that impulse he’s generated a catalog of photo-collages and other images.
See more of Tommy Mintz’s work here.
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