You might not know this, but back in the 1700s there was no iPhone, and therefore — shockingly– no Instagram. It may also surprise you to know that the English were once forward looking, inventive and curious as a nation, and so they came up with their own way to grungify the views they saw on vacation, and (probably) their breakfasts.
The gadget was called the [The Claude Glass](http://www.gardendesign.com/ideas/art-botany-the-claude-glass “Art + Botany: The Claude Glass | Garden Design”), and was actually invented by a Frenchman, [Claude Lorrain][www.claudelorrain.org], around a hundred years earlier. The Claude Glass was an oval-shaped convex mirror with a blackened reflective surface, and used to view the scene behind you over our shoulder. There was just one “filter,” which gave a pleasing, low-contrast rendering of the scene, and the convex glass drew in more of the scene, rendering it with something like a fisheye effect.
Like Instagram on the iPhone, the Claude Glass could only be viewed by a couple of people at a time. Sharing was also clearly an issue. Due to the inexplicable lack of Twitter back in the 19th century, you’d have to hire a painter to spend hours or days rendering the image, and then there would only be one copy. This is starting to make the iPad 1 look fast.
But what this really shows is that humans have been fascinated by manipulated images since forever. Also: rumors that Facebook is interested in a $1 billion acquisition of the Claude Glass are unfounded.
Tintern Abbey in the UK has a webcam pointed at its own Claude Glass 24/7, and you can see it in action [here][web2.uwindsor.ca]. I can’t tell you how much I love this marriage of 400-years-apart technology.
[www.claudelorrain.org]: http://www.claudelorrain.org/ “Claude Lorrain – The complete works”
[www.gardendesign.com]: http://www.gardendesign.com/sites/all/files/AnnaLaurent/Derwentwater-England.jpg “claude glass”
[www.gardendesign.com 1]: http://www.gardendesign.com/ideas/art-botany-the-claude-glass “Art + Botany: The Claude Glass | Garden Design”
- Via [Kottke