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Quad-Cam Camera, ca. 1985

This is a camera. It was distributed by Accoutrements. It is dated ca. 1985 and we acquired it in 2017. Its medium is molded plastic, metal, mechanical parts, fabric strap. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

The Quad-Cam was advertised to “Capture art in action!” The transparent plastic device comes in gem tones of either blue or green, with grey-white operational knobs and a black viewfinder and wrist strap. The most striking feature of the Quad-Cam is, of course, its four identical lenses, inset into the device and arranged in a grid. This novelty camera operates with standard 35mm film but has no flash attachment, making it best-suited for outdoor use. The camera gives the user the choice of shooting each lens individually, making two or four identical images, or shooting all four sequentially at three different speeds. All options result in four images per 35 mm frame. Unlike the majority of consumer cameras on the market, the Quad-Cam is not intended for serious photographic documentation; its packaging and instruction manual both assert that the device is “not a precision instrument.” Rather, it was created to playfully capture four-frame snapshots that document action and motion at equal intervals over the course of one second. Users are encouraged to “forget everything [they’ve] learned about ‘good’ photography” and instead embrace “trial and error, imagination and experimentation.” The “Quad-Cam photo philosophy” acknowledges spontaneity as the cornerstone of the product’s unique brand of “fun art photography.” This easy-to-use photographic device anticipates more recent developments in consumer photography, including smartphone photo booth apps and the ubiquitous photo sharing platform Instagram. Its sister product the Pop Cam directly connects its quadripartite compositions in saturated hues to the bright and repetitive works of Andy Warhol and even Roy Lichtenstein.

This object was donated by Estate of Phil Patton. It is credited Gift of Phil Patton.

Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 3.8 × 19.1 × 14 cm (1 1/2 × 7 1/2 × 5 1/2 in.)

Cite this object as

Quad-Cam Camera, ca. 1985; Distributed by Accoutrements; molded plastic, metal, mechanical parts, fabric strap; H x W x D: 3.8 × 19.1 × 14 cm (1 1/2 × 7 1/2 × 5 1/2 in.); Gift of Phil Patton; 2017-55-2

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108954617/ |title=Quad-Cam Camera, ca. 1985 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=28 May 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>