In the early 1990s a couple of students discovered a small, enigmatic Russian camera, the Lomo Kompakt Automat, and created a new style of artistic experimental photography with their first unorthodox snapshot cavortings. The approach: taking as many photographs (Lomographs) as possible in the most impossible of situations possible and from the most !unusual positions possible, and then having them developed as cheaply as possible. The result is a flood of authentic, colourful, crazy, off-the-wall, unfamiliar and often brilliant snapshots. These are mounted on panels to form a sea of thousands of Lomographs which regularly astonish viewers with their sheer colourfulness, diversity and power of expression. Ensuing major exhibitions in Moscow, New York, Vienna, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Havana, Zurich, Cologne, Madrid, Cairo, Tokyo and many other cities, where up to 100,000 Lomographs were shown at a time, established an international reputation for Lomography.
So, what started out spontaneously as an artistic approach to photography in the Vienna underground scene developed into a far-reaching, international socio-cultural movement. This development has been supported by the marketing of products that have since been 'discovered' or specially developed by the Lomographic Society: extraordinary snapshot camera!s (for example, the 4-lensed cameras or the Holga), photoFashion, photographic accessories, Lomographic books etc.. Also by a diversity of cultural activities organised regularly by the Lomographic Society in 35 countries around the world. The specially inaugurated LomographicAmbassadors look after LomographicFriends on a regional basis and organise all sorts of activities, such as exhibitions, parties, shows, LomographicShootings and tours, publications, international and local art projects, also collaborating on projects in the areas of film, music and the new media, as well as providing local support in a series of annual world-wide events and competitions.
The social and visual credo of Lomography had a strong influence on the function and aesthetic of photography in the 1990s. Today the community of Lomographers has over 500,000 members world-wide. Among these are mere mortals like you or me, but also such famous individuals as Brian Eno, Laurie Anderson,! David Byrne, Pulp, Underworld, Helmut Lang, Moby and Robert Redford, to name just a few. The basic Lomographic idea – be fast, don't think, be open-minded towards your environment, absorb everything, collect and enjoy being communicative – has spread into a culture of communication and an approach to awareness that is shared throughout the Lomographic network. The creative premise is based on the playful combination of lo-tech and hi-tech and the amalgamation of a cultural institution with a commercial photographic and design company. And this approach has provided the Lomographic movement with a most exquisite role in this age of global and borderless (tele)communications wherever language, text and images are involved.
Where is all this going? The Lomographic Society is busy beavering away with hundreds of thousands, soon to be millions of Lomographers, on and on, on the perpetually ongoing LomographicSysiphus project: The LomoWorldArchive. Th!is is the most comprehensive archive of snapshots of all time, with all – really all – the wackiest and most impossible sights and moments of our time!
Where is this archive? In Lomographers' shoe-boxes, stacked on chairs, tables, in cupboards, drawers, and on the ceilings, floors and walls of Lomographic homes, in LomographicAlbums, at the Lomographic Society International Central Office in Vienna... and in the highest, most select quality and concentration, online in the LomoWorldArchive at the global communications centre of Lomography: www.lomography.com