Explosion… A Sony Mavica guide to digital migration

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Sony Mavica FD-91 digital camera

Sony Mavica FD-91 digital camera taken apart

This camera, a Sony Mavica FD-91 is a remarkable display object, as testified by more than a decade on display in our Cyberworlds gallery. Not only was it purchased and purposefully dismantled (or exploded) to display the mechanism and electronic engineering of the camera, but it stands as a crossover piece between things that are built from materials (plastics, metals, electronics) and things that are birthed from objects like it; things that are ‘born digital.’ It was collected and remains an important teaching tool for a range of age groups.

Recently a UTS undergraduate class studying the History of Digital Photography attended a basement tour of physical objects pertaining to their subject. With many of our phones containing more sophisticated digital photography functions than our actual cameras, objects such as a camera obscura, a stereoscope, the Enimga ciper machine, early television receivers and even early fax machines appear retro, perhaps even quaint, to these digital natives. Before the tour concluded, much of the basement experience embodied in the physical objects will have been captured and shared digitally by students by way of their mobile phones. This will have been done either directly via text or email, or to their wider digital community via social media. This is very different to the way that most curators collect and share information about objects
in the collection, but with the advent of an open archive and blogs such as this one, perhaps we digital immigrants aren’t too far behind.

Written by Deborah Turnbull, Assistant Curator Design & Technology

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