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"I Am a Camera"
Single by The Buggles
from the album Adventures in Modern Recording
B-side "Fade Away"
Released October 1981
Format 7", 12"
Genre Synthpop
Length 4:32
Label Carrere
Writer(s) Geoff Downes, Trevor Horn
Producer Trevor Horn
The Buggles singles chronology
"I Am a Camera"
"Adventures in Modern Recording"
"Into the Lens"
Single by Yes
from the album Drama
B-side "Does It Really Happen?"
Released 1980
Format 7"
Genre Progressive rock
Length 3:47
Label Atlantic
Writer(s) Geoff Downes, Trevor Horn, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Alan White
Producer Yes and Eddie Offord
Yes singles chronology
"Don't Kill The Whale"
"Into the Lens"
"Owner of a Lonely Heart"

"I Am a Camera" is a song originally written by Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes of The Buggles. It was first released as "Into the Lens" on the Yes album Drama in 1981, and the year after on Adventures in Modern Recording, the second and last album of The Buggles. Both versions were also released as singles: "Into the Lens" in 1980 and "I Am a Camera" in October 1981 (on Carrere Records).[1]


The first version of the song was a demo, recorded on a Sunday afternoon when songwriters Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes started working on a second The Buggles album in 1980.[1]. When they joined Yes, it gained input from other members Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White, and therefore, "Into the Lens" features a more distinctive "prog rock" sound. When Horn and Downes resumed work on the Buggles album, the song was reworked as "I Am a Camera" - now with a tendency towards the characteristic synthpop style of that group. Trevor Horn said about the two versions:

The song "I Am a Camera" was a Buggles track and we had adapted it into a Yes track. It became "Into the Lens" and, naturally, slightly more overblown. I don't mind "Into the Lens"—the melody's unadulterated while the arrangement's a lot more complicated—but I still prefer The Buggles version. I think Geoffrey's brilliant on the The Buggles version.[1]

The two versions feature slightly different lyrics, notably "I will never let you go, and you always let the feelings show" ("Into the Lens") compared to "I will never let you go, if you only let the feelings show" ("I Am a Camera").

The single edit of Yes' own "Into the Lens" was entitled "Into the Lens (I Am a Camera)".

The line "I am a camera" is a quote from Christopher Isherwood's Goodbye to Berlin (1939). The full sentence reads, "I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking." There was also a play (1951) and subsequent film (1955) based on the novel under the name I Am a Camera.

Music video

In the music video made for "I Am a Camera", during the beginning, there are a pair of Horn's trademark glasses. On one of the lenses is a video and the other is glass. Horn comes out of the video side of the glasses (as illustrated). There are scenes involving Horn singing, broken glasses and opticians' tools. The video is seemingly set in a dollhouse. Towards the end, Horn is seen lying on the floor passed out.


  1. ^ a b c Peel, Ian (2010). Release notes for Adventures in Modern Recording by The Buggles (CD insert). Salvo Records (SALVOCD036).


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