Jno Cook: Radically Recycled Cameras

Different types of cameras sit on pedestals and on shelves. Black and white photographs are pinned to the gallery wall.

Installation view, Jno Cook: Radically Recycled Cameras, MIT List Visual Arts Center, 1990.

Bakalar Gallery
Featured Artists
Jno Cook
Explore all artists who have exhibited at the List in our Artist Index.

This exhibition of cameras and photographs by Chicago-based artist Jno (pronounced Jon) Cook is the third in the List Visual Arts Center’s series celebrating the 151st anniversary of photography. 

Cook has designed and constructed a wide variety of cameras, all made from reclaimed optical and mechanical materials, as well as common household objects such as cookie tins. In formulating and executing his camera designs the artist has never found it necessary to look further than high-school texts on geometry and physics. Most of Cook’s quirky, homemade cameras are functional; in the exhibition, some cameras will be accompanied by photographs that they have produced. According to exhibition curator Ron Platt, “these cameras often illustrate a basic photographic principle, such as color separation, or are designed to take a specific picture – the 35mm 3200 Frame Remote Camera,for instance, was originally made as test equipment to photograph the insides of railway car wheels for a Federal Railway Agency project. Another camera ensnares, electrocutes, and photographs cockroaches.” Black humor aside, Cook’s artistic mission is simple and direct: to demystify the technological inscrutability of the photography industry – and in turn to demonstrate to other artists that it is safe to experiment with photographic equipment as one would with any other artist’s tools.

Publication available (ISBN: 0-938437-30-5). Illustrated catalogue with an essay by Ron Platt and an interview with the artist.