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Light, small apertures, dark spaces

posted on 15.02.2017, 05:06 authored by Harman, Colin James
Light, Small Apertures, Dark Spaces is a creative studio-based research project that explores the potential of altering the audience's visual perception of the spaces that surround us through the use of wearable camera obscura devices. The camera obscura's simplicity as a image generating device lead me to create interactive mobile devices using found objects and materials such as cardboard boxes, mirrors, an exercise ball, paper mache, magnifying glasses, and a mobile phone's video camera. These camera obscura devices were developed with two aims in mind- (1) to reflect space and (2) to give the user a real time experience of the exterior world from an interior or internal space. In today's world where virtual reality and cyberspace exist the similarities between an observer immersed in an interactive world where a mechanical device becomes an extension of the body justifies using the camera obscura as a model for comparative observation. In terms of being an optical device that creates images the camera obscura's simplicity, in a time of complex visual systems, has the ability to subvert and mystify visual perception. The diversity of experience and the overwhelming accessibility we have to image producing technology through the digitisation of cinema, television, video and photography has lead me to question the nature of space and visual perception. Is it real? Do I exist in space or does space exist around me? Does what I see have limitations? Are my perceptions of space confined to the limits of my body? Is it possible to expand the understanding I have of space and if so how? Do new models of visual culture in the 21st century affect the way I perceive reality? Given that as a visual artist I exist in a digital image saturated culture, how, if at all, does this effect visual perception when the world is viewed through an old model of vision like a camera obscura? These questions lead me to experiment with antiquated optical devices so as to alter my perceptions of space and change the natural processes of seeing. It could be argued that visual technology in our daily existence has become so normalised that we can lose touch with exploring other ways of perceiving the world. This research has attempted to show simplicity within a creative process that allows a viewing audience to experience the tactile interactive nature of the mobile camera obscura experience as an image-generating device. In a sense it is meant to make us stop and think about digital culture, progress and how it affects us.


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Department, School or Centre

Fine Art


Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture