About Vintage Camera Museum
They say, “befriend your enemies”, but, artist AP Shreethar has gone one step further and glorified them. The invention of the camera and photography, ensured slowly but steadily that artists were relegated to the background which eventually brought about their downfall, some of them even committing suicide because of poverty.
AP Shreethar echoes the sentiments of his mentor, Mr.Raja Bharani who always stated that with the advent of photography, the demand for realistic painting and real artists came down drastically. He also reminisces his mentors’ teachings on the proximity of camera and paintings during his early days and how photography demolished the lives of artists. The reason being, people were more attracted to the perfection a photography achieves as well as the time period it consumed for bringing alive a moment in their lives as well as retaining such moments as memories. The many “isms” like surrealism, modernism, cubisim, though brought to fore new abstract artists, but was also responsible for the diminishing of real time artists.
Artist Shreethar, who has travelled extensively and conducted 64 shows all over in a span of 14 years, was always in pursuit of this enemy and was inspired to gather all the ‘enemies’ at one place and put it up for display, to make people understand that every evolution silently signals the death of a bygone era. This propelled him to set up the First Vintage Camera’s Museum at India’s biggest theme park, VGP Snow Kingdom which later on gave him the confidence to set up the Second Vintage Camera’s Museum at Singapore in a larger scale.
The Vintage Camera’s Museum, itself is set in the form of a Rolli camera, and the entry is shaped like a lens. There are around 1000+ cameras in each display right from replicas of the world’s biggest camera - the mammoth camera till the latest technological gadget, a 11 gram camera. Some of the other unique cameras which can be viewed in the museum are a walking stick camera, spy cameras, pigeon cameras, first 3D camera and pistol cameras to name a few. Besides, the museum also has on display, rare collection of photographs featuring interesting facets about photography including an authentic replica of the first ever photograph taken.
To understand any concept fully, one needs to understand its history. And so it goes with the camera as well. The Vintage Camera’s Museum features a detailed documentary on the evolution of cameras and its journey thus far. It also caters to the curious minds by screening interesting documentaries on some of the unique cameras of those days. One such invention was the pigeon camera. The documentary, describes in detail through photographs and rare videos involved in the making and usage of the pigeon camera. Another documentary on the Minox Camera, a.k.a. the spy camera which was used in espionage and famously featured in Hollywood detective thrillers, is also screened at the museum at regular intervals. In addition, the Vintage Camera’s Museum also has a rare collection of negatives, film rolls and books on photography.
A distinct feature of the museum is that one can take a ‘selfie’ with Lumiere Brothers, who were the pioneers in photography. Lumiere Brothers were French inventors and pioneer manufacturers of photographic equipment who devised an early motion-picture camera and projector called the Cinématographe. Besides, one can also take a photo with George Eastman, an American innovator and entrepreneur who founded the Eastman Kodak Company and popularized the use of roll film, thereby helping to bring photography to the mainstream. The photo resembles that of the great George Eastman, gifting a box camera. Some of the cameras on display can be touched and felt for a complete hands-on experience. There is also a guided tour to help the visitors appreciate the functionality and limitations of the cameras. Cameras nowadays form an integral part of everybody’s life so much so that nobody realizes that a few decades back, it was a herculean task to document visual memories since it involved buying not only a camera, but also a film roll, and finding a photo studio to develop it and store it in an album as treasures. This is the day of instant gratification were every minute of one’s life can be recorded for eternity. However, for a photographic enthusiast, this Museum not only provides an insight on the history of cameras but also its usage and its evolution through the decades, right from the box camera which was invented in the early 19th century till the GoPro of the 21st century. The Vintage Camera’s Museum is a one of its kind in Asia, and will hugely benefit not just people with inclination towards photography, but also curious minds on how history has been documented visually through the past centuries.