First it was mailed to Chicago, where Olivia Arduini picked it up.
Then, the disposable Kodak camera, affixed to a piece of cardboard with a message urging postal workers to take pictures at will, made a pit stop in Boston.
That’s when Felicity Lingle got her hands on it.
Days later, Lingle followed the directions given to her, and put the camera back in a mailbox and sent it to Baltimore, where it had begun its journey weeks before.
The camera’s tri-city tour was part of an art project that relied on “snail mail” and an outdated form of picture taking to tell a story about people in different parts of the country, and the mail carriers who get packages where they need to go.
“I was kind of brainstorming some new ideas, and I came up with this,” said Maryland resident Mary England, who first mailed the camera to Arduini, in Chicago.
The process was part of England’s plan to complete 365 separate art installations this year.
England said she drew inspiration for this project from Massachusetts native Matthew McVickar, who in 2011 similarly mailed a disposable camera from Cape Cod to Honolulu.
Boston’s USPS workers fulfilled England’s request, which was written plainly on the package in bold letters, to snap photos on the job.
Once England got the camera back from Lingle, she posted the images to her blog.
Unfortunately, almost no one from USPS used the camera’s flash button, so most of the images came out blurry, grainy, and purple, England said. But the project was still worthwhile, and overall a success.
“It was actually still really cool,” England said.
Lingle, who lives near Fort Point but has never met England, got involved in passing around the camera through Arduini, a mutual friend and pen pal.
Lingle said there were still exposures remaining when the camera got from Baltimore to Chicago, so Arduini passed it forward to Boston.
When Lingle received it, she tried to mail it to her friend in California, but two weeks later it landed back in her mailbox with all the photos used up.
That’s when she shipped on to England once again.
“It was really fun to take part [in this], and I eagerly anticipated seeing the end results,” Lingle said.
The Maryland artist is encouraging people to try their own version of the disposable camera installation, to see how many cities they can cover.
“I have had people e-mail me and ask about the logistics, and people seemed pretty inspired by it,” she said.Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.