Tag Archives: Camera Obscura

Abelardo Morell makes a room camera

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



James McArdle, camera obscura


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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Camera Obscura work



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:

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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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