Cameras have long been our trusty companions. Their ability to capture a memory of a specific time and place into a physical form is almost magical. But what if a camera could transcend the conventional definition of photography? Designer Bjørn Karmann and his Paragraphica challenge this same notion by redefining how a moment is captured.
Both a physical prototype and an online virtual camera, Paragraphica offers a novel approach to capturing moments. The camera’s viewfinder provides a real-time description of your location that is later fed to the AI.
By utilizing various data points such as the address, weather conditions, time of day, and nearby places (collected from APIs through GPS and internet access) Paragraphica composes a description that encapsulates the essence of the current place and moment. Through the use of a Stable Diffusion, the camera converts this description into a unique visualization. Additionally, compass direction was considered but ultimately had almost no effect on the final result so it was not included in the final parameters.
Introducing – Paragraphica! 📡📷
A camera that takes photos using location data. It describes the place you are at and then converts it into an AI-generated "photo".
— Bjørn Karmann (@BjoernKarmann) May 30, 2023
The inspiration for this camera comes from an interesting animal, the star-nosed mole. This mole, digging and hunting underground, has no use for conventional vision, which is based on light. Instead, it has developed an intelligent and unique method of “seeing” through its star nose’s sense of smell. This amazing animal became the perfect metaphor and inspiration for Bjørn Karmann to explore the idea of how the world can be perceived differently.
As such Paragraphica doesn’t use traditional lenses, which are based on light, but develops its own original way of capturing moments. Just as the star-nosed mole’s unique adaptation enables it to navigate its environment, Paragraphica offers a novel way to navigate the visual landscape. As a tribute to the star-nosed mole, the camera also features a shape resembling its nose where the lenses would traditionally be.
The star-nosed mole may be blind, but it’s unique tentacled snout can see the world through an extraordinary sense of smell. Its nose is about 1 cm in diameter with roughly 25,000 Eimer's organs distributed on 22 appendages.#Wildlifewednesday 🐀 pic.twitter.com/YBkQgKjodn
— Point of Stories NG (@StoriesPointNg) July 1, 2020
Staying faithful to the aesthetics and controls of traditional cameras, Paragraphica features three dials that allow users to shape the final image. These dials, reminiscent of focal length, film grain, and guidance scale controls, provide a familiar interface for photographers to influence the appearance and focus of their visual creations.
The first dial now represents the radius the camera will use to look for places of interest to include in the description. The grain dial remains similar now representing a seed between 0.1 and 1 that will tell the AI how noisy to make the final image. The third dial, similarly, is a seed for the guidance going from blurry to sharp.
6/ Here's how Paragraphica's prompt works pic.twitter.com/ZxGSLReWDJ
— Wiggles.eth (@WigglesCEO) May 31, 2023
With Paragraphica, Bjørn Karmann has pushed the boundaries of what photography is. It’s not just about capturing images. This is just an artistic project but it proved a valid point. Art, and by extension photography, is about discovering new perspectives and allowing us to see the world through different eyes, offering a glimpse into their unique ways of perceiving and understanding. These eyes are in this case digital but this doesn’t make their vision less valid. The nose of the star-nosed mole isn’t eyes either, but it makes this mole “see”, it gives it a vision, a perception, this camera follows the same principle.
Photo credit: The feature image is symbolic and has been created with the help of Adobe Firefly.
Sources: Creative Applications