Eye Obscura

The Blindings

Shed Obscura

Something very magical and special happens when light enters a dark space through a small opening.  In the 4th Century BC Aristotle wrote about this phenomenon and in the 21st Century (as part of ‘Boundary Way Community Gardens & Allotments ‘Open  Day’ Event)  I stepped back in time and transformed the shed on a shared allotment plot into a camera obscura.  People were invited to step inside this space to experience the world in a different way.

Feedback from some of the people who experienced the shed obscura


This is the beginning of our aim to develop Boundary Way Gardens as a venue for cultural activity, which will offer new opportunities for the local community.   We successfully delivered workshops and exhibited the wonderful prints created.  The workshops and ‘shed obscura’ raised awareness of this ancient optical device.

image of the outside world seen inside the shed obscura

‘Eye Obscura’ is a portable camera obscura.  People were invited to use the portable obscura to experience the world inside out and upside down in and around the area of Chapel Ash as part of Junction Art Festival 2015. 

‘The Blindings’ toured to Gaunts House in Dorset.  Whilst on a yoga weekend at Gaunts House I was drawn to the wonderful aromatic herb gardens where myself and another attendant Bernice Whitehouse performed ‘The Blindings’.  People joined us on a walk to the herb garden where they were invited to be guided on a silent journey around this space whilst they wore spectacles covered with the skin of milk.  A weighing scale nestled within the palms of the attendant’s hands, which held the spectacles.  This was designed as an offering and given to the willing invited participant.  As their vision would become impaired through wearing the spectacles, we were asking for their trust.  The position, sensation and movement of their bodies and limbs as they walked around, would affect their balance and hopefully encourage their sense of heightened touch.  Holding them close-by, each attendant with the guest participant, silently guided them around a designated pathway.   You can read more about ‘The Blindings’ under Writings

Veiled Chamber  


‘Magical Spaces’ was part of ‘The Print Room’ exhibition with eight artists who’s work explores memories, history and poetry. During this exhibition the public were invited to look inside and interact with a small handmade camera obscura.  Many people were fascinated with this small magical box which enhanced their understanding of the accompanying video work ‘Machine I’ and ‘Body Photographs’. 


‘Machine I’ documents the process of making photographs through using the orifice of the mouth as a camera body.  During this process, bubbles of saliva are formed which is the residue of attempting to use my lips as an aperture which projects light onto the photographic paper in my mouth (akin to a pinhole camera). 


There are only around 50 camera obscuras in the world so not many people know what a camera obscura is.


Video ‘Machine I’

Magical Spaces

‘Dusk’ is a series of photographs created inside a shed on a shared allotment at Boundary Way, Wolverhampton, that I transformed into a camera obscura.   When light enters into this space through the small opening something very magical and special happens and at Dusk the wonder and magic is twofold.


I spend a long time engaging with these mysterious images inside this space, connecting with them in an intimate way, and capturing them using long exposure times.


I love the process of pinhole, which is expressive of the imperceptible passage of time, making visible that which is invisible to the ordinary eye.  For myself it captures a sense of the mystical in the ordinary.

   Dusk


Organic Eye

‘Organic Eye’ is a public art project which involves placing small camera obscura’s in public/community spaces in Wales, in the hope that people will discover them and take time to slow down and experience the world in a different way.  Each of the origami camera obscura’s are biodegradable and it will be interesting to see how people intereact with them.  If they are not taken away by people who find them, they will eventually rot and become part of the forest and gardens as they are reclaimed by nature, the process of which will be documented. You can read more about this project in here






 

‘Veiled Chamber’ was part of ‘wlvfotofest 2012’ where I stepped back in time and transformed the entrance to the Alan Garner Centre in Wolverhampton into a camera obscura.  People were invited to step inside this space to experience the world in a different way.


I would like to say a big Thank You to the two ex-students Josie Wallbank and Adam Bryce who helped me with this project.  I am also grateful for the time and help Sian Fletcher (Manager - Creative Studies) gave to secure permission to make this project happen.   As always I am indebted to my husband Dave who helped me build the camera obscura.  Thank you all - Ann  


The Camera Obscura is an ancient optical device.  In its most basic form it is, quite simply, a dark room with a small hole in one wall.  When light enters the hole it projects an image of the outside world onto the inner surface of the camera.


                                                      



             










Feedback from some of the people who experienced ‘Veiled Chamber’

Machine I, The Middle of Nowhere, Exposure

‘Phone Chamber’ was part of ‘2.5 Hours of oxygen’ curated by Anne Forgan.  Anne gave six artists the opportunity to engage with Birmingham City Centre’s last few remaining K6 red phone boxes.  For ‘Phone Chamber’ the phone box was decked out with light tight purple drapes transforming it into a camera obscura.   People were invited to enter this space to experience the world inside out and upside down. 


Visit BBC Birmingham review 2009 to read about the other artists work and more about this project.

Phone Chamber

I often perform and make images through using my body as a camera joining together interior and exterior spaces, through using the orifice of my mouth as the camera body, to clasping my hands together to form an aperture and using a ‘Body Necklace’ that contains apertures for the lips and the hands.  Underlying this work is the act of creating with my own body.  The marks of my bodily processes are inscribed on to the image in the form of fingerprints, teeth marks and particles of saliva containing my historical traces of being.  This work reveals the body as matter and process and questions the notion of the body as a container for the self.


This work is process led and the process becomes a performance, which I capture on motion film, which I consider to be just as important as the resulting images.  The video work becomes an installation which takes into account the relationship between the body and the architectural spaces used.


Video - The Middle of Nowhere

             Exposure

             Machine I

Images of Installation

Body Photographs made with the mouth and clasped hands

On Longing

A series of pinhole photographs are being created through the use of my ‘egg camera’ which nestles inside the palms of my hands whilst I sit on the edge of the canal bank for the 15 minute duration of the exposure time.  I sit silently and go through an order of simple actions during the process.


I am not interested in using a camera to perfect the world: rather I love the process of pinhole photography, which is expressive of the imperceptible passage of time, making visible that which is invisible to the ordinary eye.  For myself it captures a sense of the mystical in the ordinary.

The Blindings

A performance consisting of seven ‘attendants’ who encouraged people to wear strangers spectacles covered with the skin of milk whilst being guided on a silent journey around the architectural spaces of the Custard Factory, in Birmingham.  As their vision would be impaired through wearing the spectacles we were asking for their trust.  The nature of their pending impartial sight was designed to encourage the heightening of their other senses.  In particular their senses of touch, smell and sound.  

The Blindings II

I was drawn to a small intimate space near the lake at the West Park in Wolverhampton.  Myself and five volunteer attendants invited people to be guided on a silent journey around this space whilst they wore spectacles covered with the skin of milk.  A weighing scale nestled within the palms of the attendant’s hands, held the spectacles.  This was designed as an offering and given to the willing invited participant.  As their vision would become impaired through wearing the spectacles, we were asking for their trust.  The position, sensation and movement of their bodies and limbs as they walked around, would affect their balance and hopefully encourage their sense of heightened touch.  Holding them close-by, each attendant with the guest participant, silently guided them around a designated pathway.


The Blindings Video

Reminiscent

Small white boxes that contained a variety of certain scents were distributed in and around the area of Chapel Ash as part of Junction Art Festival 2012.  They were left in public houses, hairdressers, restaurants and cafe’s, places where people socialize and chat about everyday life.  Some were also left in telephone boxes, bus shelters and the like, so people could find/experience this artwork in unexpected spaces.


Underpinning the work was the idea that we all posses an ‘inner time’ filled with places, perfumes and sounds which are buried in our subconscious mind.  These past experiences which are always connected to a space or a place, can never be repeated and are lost to us, but the sensations and flavours experienced are not.  The work explores how an unexpected scent can have the effect of transporting us to a different time and place.


During the festival I interacted with some of the people who engaged with the work and enjoyed sharing their memories.  I chose not to document this work so that it only exists and travels by word of mouth. 








Scene by Mouth

A video installation, which depicts video performance, where it as if the eyes vision has been given to the mouth.


Scene by mouth was made in response to a derelict building on the corner of Alcester Street and Green Street in Digbeth, Birmingham, where a cctv camera was held in place inside the mouth to capture images of the interior of the building.


I had the desire to soak up the experience of the texture of surfaces and breath in the scents emanating from the building.  The work attempts to augment vision in order to enlarge the definition of what seeing entails.

Looking Glasses

‘Looking Glasses’ was part of ‘Testing the Waters’ a two week residency and exhibition by six members from ‘Laundry’ shown at Galleri 54, in Gothenburg, Sweden.  Arriving one week before the exhibition we created work of an immediate and site specific nature.  Questioning and investigating we responded to the city.  You can read more about ‘Laundry’ on www.laundryline.co.uk

The Visitor

A series of photographic works developed during 2009/10 whilst carrying out a residency at ‘Himley House’ in Shropshire.  This work investigates the in-between, the spaces between the body and the physical world, a space which i physically explore and interrogate.  The works are presented as a series of narratives that have their own story, whilst allowing the viewer to interpret their own scenario around the work.

Hotel Destination

A series of photographic works developed over a period of three months for a residency at The Queen Victoria Hotel, Wolverhampton.  I was drawn to the hotel through my fascination with thoughts of the shifting population who visit the hotel very intermittently.  Alongside working on this residency I was studying ‘film’ at The Lighthouse and you can clearly see within this work the influence of film.  Within the work I am not writing stories - rather I allow the camera to create stills which I then script by joining them together. 


‘There is that sense that we are to forever walk these corridors, losing our way and ending up again and again seeing the same things.  But they are never the same as the objects are in a different light or have been moved slightly by the chambermaids.  Playing in-between the conscious and unconscious the audience can play out their own lives through the doors of Hotel Destination and never arrive in the same place at the same time twice.’  Rhonda Wilson Creative Director

Earth Camera Photographs

An ongoing series of ‘earth camera photographs’ are being created through the use of my earth pinhole camera that nestles in the ground of my garden.  The resulting photographs show ambiguous marks which cannot be pre-determined.  Some of these appear to depict what may be the dust or stars and others fire or water which recalls, for me, our relationship to the four elements - earth, air, fire and water.   You can read more about the earth camera under Writings