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Light, small apertures, dark spaces
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posted on 15.02.2017by 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.