The Claude Glass

Since my first day at the Tower of London I have been struck by the way many of the visitors walk around with their digital camera/video up in front of them for what seems like the duration of their visit. I also see this on my usual walk from London Bridge train station, along the River Thames and over Tower Bridge to get to the Tower. I become aware of the hundreds of people framing images of themselves and each other with Tower Bridge in the background. It reminds me of this image by Martin Parr



I also remembered learning about the Claude Glass while at college and it seems strangely similar. The Claude Glass was made popular in the 18th Century as an intelligent and tasteful way for travellers to veiw the landscape. Thomas West gave these instructions on its use:

“The person using it ought always to turn his back to the object that he views”

This seems quite funny, but in some way also echoes the way people seperate themselves from the experience of a place by walking around looking at the LCD screen of their video camera.


A Claude Glass from the V&A Museum

A Claude Glass from the V&A Museum







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