Dark Chamber

What the eye records and the mind sees can be (and often are) two different things. It is human nature to embellish what we think we see, adding erroneous elements or characters. The idea arose that I could construct a replica of my head to act as a camera obscura and surrogate capturing the outside world by means of a pinhole in the “eye” of the sculpture.

The film is positioned in the center of the head (much like one might envision the eye projecting an optical image directly onto the brain). The pinhole then projects the aerial image on to the film. The stationed “head” is placed in a location like an observer and records the scene like any human being. The only record of the event are the pinhole images made with the cast-head pinhole camera. As is true of pinhole images, there is an inexact and dreamlike quality.

As a record, photographs, even pinhole photographs, lack that human element of random thoughts and biases that the mind overlays on memories. The works are further taken to the absurd by adding fantastical elements hand drawn in a scratchy, sketchy style to emphasize the mind’s ability (sometimes compulsion) to add to reality. These incomplete fantasies I have in my head are often scenes of amusement or escape in the world.

This work invites contemplation on the photographic medium, its relation to human sight, and the realities that we create in our head.

In his essay, “Thread of Light” from the book “The Poetics of Light“, Roy L. Flukinger wrote that, “Perhaps that is the special role of pinhole photographers: to disrupt the routine process of looking and permit the human eye to absorb all that spectacle and curiosity can contribute to our comprehension.”