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Camera Obscura

DAY, Michael (2014) Camera Obscura. [Artefact]

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Abstract or description

The camera obscura is a type of tourist attraction in which a live projected image of a scene can be viewed from within a large darkened room. Viewers engage with the image in a different way to the actual view, scrutinising it more fully and spending more time allowing their curiosity to unfold. The image demands a different type of attention and provides a more engaged, more tranquil and often more meditative viewer experience than the view itself. The camera obscura also informs a model of vision in which the whole visual field is instantaneously apprehended. Crary outlines the irrelevance of this model, but demonstrates how its metaphorical impact went on to refigure the modern observer (2000, p. 40).

This piece presents the viewer with a live but modified version of a view external to the exhibition space. The piece was staged at Castle House, in Sheffield, UK, where the view was of the soon-to-be-demolished Castle Market. This building was a Brutalist landmark with a strong sense of place. The dispersal of the community within the market was mourned more than the crumbling monolith in which it resided.

The piece randomly selects portions of a live video feed of the market building and layers them into a slowly shifting patina of video imagery. By combining randomly zoomed portions of the view, small changes in everyday activity that might be overlooked in the actual view become more noticeable and evident in the projection, in an attempt to mirror the camera obscura model of vision.

The piece permitted an introspective eye to be cast over live images of the market, producing an ephemeral, fleeting visual memorial. This fractured image of the market ebbed and flowed, reminding the viewer of the developing nature of the urban cityscape and its implicit impermanence and susceptibility to change.

Crary, J. (2000). Suspensions of Perception: Attention, Spectacle, and Modern Culture. Cambridge, Mass; London: MIT.

Item Type: Artefact
Uncontrolled Keywords: video, moving image, art, generative, camera, obscura, digital
Faculty: School of Creative Arts and Engineering > Art and Design
Event Location: Sheffield, UK
Depositing User: Michael DAY
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2018 15:21
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 13:53

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