• Beth & Tim Manners

Candid Camera: Duke Student Records Campus Life

Updated: Sep 19, 2019

Duke Chronicle: “Imagine having a camera on your shoulder, recording all of your moments at Duke. Senior Jeffrey Wubbenhorst knows. Within his first two weeks on campus, Wubbenhorst had the inspiration to embark on an engineering project that is still following him today … Attached to Wubbenhorst’s backpack is a device—which his friend named Felix—that looks similar to a robotic Lego arm with a small GoPro camera affixed to it. The camera faces forward, capturing his everyday life, whether it’s exciting or mundane … Deciding what to record is arbitrary, he said, but he has noticed a recurring motif of free food. It’s fun to record life, just like people enjoy recording Snapchat stories, he noted.” He adds: “I also have some kind of understanding that life at Duke is not normal, and that not-normalcy should probably be preserved for posterity.”

“Building the device itself was not an easy process. Backpacks are not designed to have things stuck on the strap, so he explained that the biggest issue was figuring out how to keep the camera from shaking. After realizing PVC pipes moved too much, he turned to Legos. He said his first prototype was terrible, but the next was less terrible. It was a process of trying things out, stuff breaking and taking footage, he said. Whichever configuration gave the least shaky video was the final model he decided to use.”

“Wubbenhorst said he has been able to see himself grow up and change through the videos and through his interactions with the camera … He is now glad he continued it because it has helped him be recognized across campus and allowed him to meet more people, since the camera is a good conversation starter … Wubbenhorst is not sure if he will keep carrying the device around with him after he graduates, and it will likely depend on if his employer will allow it. However, he will continue to bring the camera for personal enjoyment.”

© 2020 by The Manners Group.

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