"Centuries before it was a precursor to photography and cinema, the camera obscura was an instrument for studying solar phenomena, an apparatus of natural magic, and a paradigm of perception. As a means of restoring innocence to vision, I believe it still has much to offer us. Looking at inverted views, I can study the way creatures negotiate gravity and the astonishing distortions of perspective. Watching the sun float past a flagpole, I can feel the speed of the earth turning. Suspended, unfixed, in a place between the past and becoming, live projections of even the most static scenes breath with the presence of time and light. Exploring the sources of these pictures and the forces that make them possible, I am often filled with a gratitude and longing for living."--Richard Torchia
The Anteroom to the Exhibition
The museum viewer first encounters the anteroom, an important area of both physical and intellectual transition. The anteroom is actually a large camera obscura (dark room, in Latin) where visitors must pause while their eyes adjust to the very dim light of the total exhibition. During this quiet respite, the visitor has time to consider the mysterious, ephemeral nature of early photography and to prepare for viewing the installations, which are quite different from photography exhibitions we usually experience.
Knowing that photo means light and graph means writing, the viewer can appreciate that he or she is inside an instrument that is in the act of producing a changing image. This piece demonstrates the most traditional application of the camera obscura.
Inside the anteroom, the viewer becomes accustomed to the semi-darkness and sees a photograph come to life before his or her eyes. This image is projected by a telescope lens Torchia placed over the darkened doorway. Light reflecting off the Center's lobby and the people in it travels through the lens and forms an image upside-down and backwards on the freestanding wall just inside the gallery entrance.
Activities: Seeing with the camera obscura and human eye
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