For the cover of Bitch’s winter issue, (Re)Vision, we dissected a kaleidoscope. We could have gone a lot of different directions with just the idea of lenses and worldviews, but I liked the fact that when you look through the lens of a kaleidoscope, you are looking at a distorted slice of the world, reflected and refracted into color and pattern. I also liked the physical act of dissecting and reassembling something in a new way that is still beautiful (or at least interesting to look at). By turning an old toy kaleidoscope inside out, the lens itself became the actual subject of our image.
Collaborating with Ryan Brown on the photos, I tried a few different versions of the kaleidoscope dissection. We needed to figure out how to take the toy apart, see what was inside it, and then really play around with the parts we found to see what worked visually (inspired in part by the blog Things Organized Neatly). We had a couple of different kaleidoscopes to work with, but this 1950s Steven kaleidoscope, frankly, had seen better days. When I tried to take it apart, I was surprised at how resilient it was. I really had to really saw at the toy—finally, a bread knife got it open. I was excited that the pieces inside were so simple: just tape, mirrors, and actual colored rock and glass bits made the wonderful patterns inside. Ryan and I tried arranging the kaleidoscope innards in all sorts of ways, first trying out geometric patterns.
But, in the end, I liked the loose patterns that emerged when we organized the rocks by color and the rest of the kaleidoscope parts by shape next to the rough edge of the cut tube. Although it’s torn apart, this old timey toy finds new life on the cover.
Kristin Rogers Brown is Bitch Media's art director.