The vortograph was the first completely abstract kind of photograph, it is composed of kaleidoscopic repetitions of forms achieved by photographing objects through a triangular arrangement of three mirrors. Alvin Langdon Coburn, a member of the Photo-Secession group and a pioneer in nonobjective photography, invented vortography in 1917 and remained the principal advocate and practitioner of the technique. Coburn’s experiments with the technique lasted only a short while.
The name is a reference to the Vorticist group of British writers and painters. The fractured planes and complex space characteristic of vortography reflect the Vorticists’ as well as Coburn’s own interest in Cubism.