Abelardo Morell makes a hotel room in New York into a Camera Obscura. Then he places a view camera on a tripod into the room and makes an exposure.
Video link: https://vimeo.com/5212904
Camera Obscura Image of Times Square in Hotel Room, 1997
After Abelardo Morell, another contemporary artist who actively uses the Camera Obscura as a tool is James McArdle. James is Associate Professor in the Image: Photography/Graphics at Deakin University.
His recent series ‘Evanescent’ is a series of pictures made with a lens and a black t-shirt forming a makeshift Camera Obscura, in which he projects an image of the tree canopy above down onto the micro-world of the forest floor. The results recapture the child-like joy to be had in the experience of optical devices, confusing ordinary spatial relations so that the macro and the micro become confused and conflated: ‘the world in a grain of sand’ to quote William Blake.
“In the steep, trackless locations in which I am making these images, my means are necessarily … makeshift; my camera and lens able to be carried in a backpack. The resultant project is not systematic but intuitive…
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This week we were talking about early photographic technologies, including the use of the Camera Obscura and the achievement – in the 1830s – of permanently fixing the image that appeared in it.
There are many artists making great work inspired by this amazing machine. I mentioned Abelardo Morell and his ‘Tent Series’, where he uses a portable tent as a Camera Obscura, its inside painted black. Using a camera on a tripod placed in it he takes exposures of the image which appears on the ground, in this arrangement:
Since 1991 I have converted rooms into Camera Obscuras in order to photograph the strange and delightful meeting of the outside world with the room’s interior.
In an effort to find new ways to use this technique, I have worked with my assistant, C.J. Heyliger, on designing a light proof tent which can project views of the surrounding landscape, via periscope…
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