w01 Camera Obscura

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Re: w01 Camera Obscura

Post by brenna.osborn1 » Mon Jan 16, 2012 6:30 pm

The camera obscura is a device that allows light to travel through a small hole in a dark room so that an image is projected on an opposite plane. As we can read from other posts on this forum, the camera obscura has been used in contemporary times as well as in the time of great artists such as Vermeer. What hasn’t been discussed as much, however, is how the camera obscura was used in paleolithic times, or whether it has been used at all. One man, Matt Gotton, has researched the use of what he calls a “paleo camera” or a camera obscura used in paleolithic times in order to create art. He argues that humans in the Paleolithic era made shelter in huts and tents that were sealed to keep out the elements.
Replica of tents used in the Paleolithic period
This resulted in a very dark room which would produce a camera obscura when a hole was poked through the tent’s wall. As a result, images from outside of the tent would be projected into the interior for humans to explore and utilize. Evidence for this ancient phenomenon can be found in the engravings which have been found in tents. These engravings are of animals and people in motion, such as a horse with multiple legs or a profile of a person in multiple positions.
An engraving of a profile of a human in motion
These have been found on a variety of rocks which leads researchers to believe these people would hold the rock so the image of the outside would fall onto it before tracing the motion onto them.
Matt Gotton also explores the use of camera obscura in other ancient times, such as the Neolithic period. If his findings are true, it shows that the camera obscura has been used for thousands of years, since the dawn of art.

http://books.google.com/books?id=GDSRJQ ... ry&f=false

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Re: w01 Camera Obscura

Post by kyle_gordon » Mon Jan 16, 2012 6:41 pm

Originally used for entertainment and drawing, the camera obscura was one of the key inventions leading to the creation of photography. The device itself consists of a dark chamber that reflects light received through a small opening, letting in light and reflecting it off a series of mirrors to produce an image. The origins of the camera obscura can be linked back to 470BC to 390BC China and created by the founder of Mohism, Mo-Ti. As the idea of the camera obscura evolved, so did it's design, eventually changing to large structures usually the size of rooms of constructed out of tents. More recently, camera obscuras are used as an art form, being improvised to fit into different objects of various sizes, to depict scenes, or to create hybrid forms of installations.
This image depicts a woman tracing an image being projected through the camera obscura. You see that as light enters through the hole, it is bounced off 2 mirrors which reflects the inverted image.
This image depicts the a piece from Abelardo Morell's book, Camera Obscura 2004. The scene consists of taking a photograph of a camera obscura of the empire state building being reflected on the wall of a hotel. By photographing the resulting scene, Morell's piece shows an art installation inside of the camera obscura itself.
Some artists also choose to place humans in their camera obscura works, such as this one where once again we see a camera obscura image inverted on a wall. The two people involved in the photographed space are shown interacting with the scene.


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Re: w01 Camera Obscura

Post by hnavery » Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:03 pm

While camera obscura was often used to aid in the making of art, it also has a darker side. The earliest know use of a camera obscura for war occurred in 1859 in Venice when Austrians who held the city built a camera obscura that overlooked the harbor. Torpedoes were sunk in the harbor and their positions marked on the table. When the operator saw an enemy ship projected over the marked spot the torpedo had detonated. However, the book The British Navy: Its Strength, Resources and Administration (1882) notes that smoke, fog, or darkness renders the system useless.

Camera obscuras were also used during World War I and World War II for training and bombing practice. Below is an image of a portable camera obscura used for aviation training or bombing practice during WWI. When the cover is lowered, the interior becomes dark. This allows the image of an airplane moving across the table to be projected. From this projection the path of the airplane can be traced and its speed measured with a metronome.

During World War II Terence Sumner Kirk, a marine who was detained as a Japanese POW managed to build a camera obscura from pieces of cardboard and secretly take 8 pictures, 6 of which were able to be developed. Originally, Kirk was unable to share his experience due to signing a gag order but 30 years after signing it he chose to defy orders and share his experience. The pictures he took are the only pictures from inside a Japanese prison camp.


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Re: w01 Camera Obscura

Post by mmihalche » Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:06 pm

Principle of the camera obscura 1671
What is a camera obscura?

According to Webster’s dictionary it is a darkened box with a convex lens or aperture for projecting the image of an external object onto a screen inside, a forerunner of the modern camera.
- A small round building with a rotating angled mirror at the apex of the roof, projecting the image of the landscape on the horizontal surface inside
- The term originates from latin in the 18th century : camera = room , obscura = dark

One of the first people to get close to the discovery of the camera obscura was Aristotle studying the stars.

The article "Simulachrum, species, forma, imago: What Was Transported by Light into the Camera Obscura?" by Isabelle Pantin discusses the beginning of the camera obscura and Kepler’s observations that brought to it. Aristotle assumed the illumination and vision are created by a change in the state of the medium. Kepler tries to clarify the problems posed by Aristotle related to light and the refraction of light. He explains what actually happens and how things work as part of the camera obscura. He says that “Light is an incorporeal state of the medium, it is the “activity of transparency” (because it actualizes the transparency that the medium possesses in potency).Thus, illumination involves no temporal process and no local movement, but only motion in the sense of qualitative change. Color, the proper object of sight, produces, in the actually transparent medium, further qualitative change which affects the observer”.

The article states that “As soon as everyone agrees on the simple idea that light carries representations of things, there can be no real misunderstanding. “Light takes nothing else with it than the image of things, which you may call forma, or simulacrum, or idolum, or species, or spectrum: that does not matter, provided that you only mean what represents the thing.”

From here we already have the idea that the image created is a simulacrum, something representing the original object, a concept addressed by Baudriard, Joseph Kosuth (with the chair project), Rene Magritte (with this is not a pipe) and many others. The simulacrum, the projected image in case is the first photograph and begins a new medium into the art work that has and still does create a discourse on originality and the aura that John Berger describes .

In the article by Pantin, Aguilonus describes the way a camera obscura works by saying that “it is sufficient to note that the image is inverted, that its luminous intensity is attenuated, and that its dimension depends on the distance of the screen”.

The camera obscura was first discovered with the purpose of astronomical research, but was later mostly used by artists to bring the outside inside the room and paint. Susan Grundy writes about David Hockneys analysis of the use of the camera obscura, since he states that scientists like Della Porta wrote extensively about it and might have passed the knowledge to some artists , one of them being Caravaggio; there is no evidence for it though.

Another artist widely associated with the use if the camera obscura is Vermeer , since his paintings are not flat, very life like, he was able to capture the change in light better than with the naked eye.

In “Camera Lucida” Roland Barthes , talks about the beginning of photography and the camera . He explains that the image produced is the outside in a new setting; it has no signification since it is not the real object, but it can generate many meanings. Barthes also says that a “photograph is like old age; even in its splendor it disincarnates the face, manifests its generic essence” ( Barthes, Camera Lucida). The photograph want to capture the real in a given moment, but most often is depicts a staging of the real .

http://www.webexhibits.org/hockneyoptic ... undy5.html
Pantin Isabelle, Simulachrum, species, forma, imago: What Was Transported by Light into the Camera Obscura?: Divergent Conceptions of Realism Revealed by Lexical Ambiguities at the Beginning of the Seventeenth Century.; Early Science and Medicine; 2008, Vol.13 Issue 3, p245-269, 25p
Barthes Roland, Camera Lucida, Hill and Wang, New York 1981
http://sarahsilverwood.blogspot.com/sea ... hotography
Sarah Silverwood , camera obscura image
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Powerhouse project, designing Detroit

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Re: w01 Camera Obscura

Post by jessicalaw04 » Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:30 pm

The camera obscura is a device that project an image of its surroundings on the screen. The images can be projected on any surface such as paper and wall. The camera obscura is basically an older version of a pinhole camera, which is usually built by a box or dark room with a hole on one side, and is used for drawings and entertainment. The projection of the image would be upside down but with colors. The camera obscura is one of the inventions that led us to photography and brought art into the next generation.

There are many artists explore camera obscura as their art and some used for scientific displays.

This is a freestanding room size camera obscura built by a group of photography class students from University of North Carolina.

There is also a camera obscura in San Francisco Cliff House on the pacific ocean that allows people to have a different look into the ocean.

Some artists also used camera obscura for drawings to make their drawings more accurate.

The invention of camera obscura has brought art and technology into a whole new century.

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Re: w01 Camera Obscura

Post by juliakristine91 » Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:37 pm

Week One Reply- Camera Obscura- Julia Calderon
The name 'camera obscura' comes from the Latin words meaning 'darkened room'. The first record of the camera obscura principle goes back to Ancient Greece, when Aristotle noticed how light passing through a small hole into a darkened room produces an image on the wall opposite, during a partial eclipse of the sun. Some scholars think that Stone age man may have used the principle of the camera obscura to produce the world's first art in cave drawings. In the 13th century the camera obscura was used by astronomers to view the sun. Later on in the 16th century the camera obscura was widely used by artist in order to get a very precise and accurate details in a drawing. In the 19th Century the camera obscura was used as a prototype for the modern day camera. Photographers would use light sensitive papers and films in order to preserve the image being projected. After this entire rooms were being turned into camera obscuras. But by the end of the 20th century the popularity of the camera obscura decreased and only a few rooms are left in the US. Some artists today still use camera obscuras as installations or other projects, but otherwise they are not as popular as they once more due to photography and other technological advances.

http://camera-obscura.co.uk/camera_obsc ... istory.asp
http://touchingharmstheart.com/2007/04/ ... oundation/
Camera Obscura installation by Richard Torchia
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Re: w01 Camera Obscura

Post by kithugstrees » Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:14 am

Before thousand dollar digital cameras and the always convenient camera phone, photographs were taken using a camera obscura. The Latin translation, “dark chamber”, is exactly what it is; it is a room or a box where the only source of light is a small hole in the wall. And much like the human eye, light travels through the small hole and becomes an upside down reflection of the world outside on a flat surface opposite the hole. The camera obscura can be traced back, at least as a theory, to as far as 5th century BC by the Chinese philosopher Mo-Ti who referred to the darkened room as a “collecting place” or the more magical “locked treasure room.” The term “camera obscura” was coined by the German astronomer Johannes Kepler, who used it for astronomical applications. Aristotle was also familiar with the logistics behind the camera obscura by observing the light passing through the holes in a sieve and the gaps between the leaves of a tree. Even Leonardo Da Vinci was familiar with the concept as an easy way to view the eclipse. For artists, a portable camera obscura, this time as a small box, was used as a drawing tool to be taken with them on their travels. Inside the box is an angled mirror that, when the image is reflected on it, projects a right-side-up image that can be traced by the artist for exceptional representation. This method was speculated to be used by artists such as Jan Vermeer and Guardi in the 17th and 18th century. Today, a camera obscura is a celebrated historical device.



http://www.neatorama.com/2006/08/29/the ... otography/

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Re: w01 Camera Obscura

Post by ewoodworth » Tue Jan 17, 2012 2:23 am

The name camera obscura comes from the Latin work meaning “darkened room.” Just as the name suggests, the camera obscura works by filtering light through a small hole pierced in one wall of a darkened room, focusing the light that passes through it and projecting an image of the outside world onto an inner surface. This concept can be applied to anything from an entire room or a small, portable box (also known as a pinhole camera). The image that gets depicted appears reversed and flipped upside-down because of the way the light is filtered through the hole, but the image can be corrected with the use of mirrors. This concept was later applied toward the creation of camera lenses.

Aristotle first used this technique in order to observe solar eclipses without damaging the eyes. This concept was later utilized by artists, who could trace the projections in order to create realistic depictions. Thus the camera lucida was patented in 1807 to be used for this very purpose.

Santa Monica is home to one of the closest camera obscuras that exist today. Discretely located in the Santa Monica Senior Center, the camera obscura allows you to project images of the pier, beach, hills and other scenes that surround the turret. The camera was donated in 1907, and despite its age still works well today.

http://inventors.about.com/od/pstartinv ... graphy.htm
Santa Monica Camera Obscura
Camera obscura drawing box

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Re: w01 Camera Obscura

Post by atbournes » Tue Jan 17, 2012 6:04 am

The Camera Obscura can be and should be seen as one of the first steps on the road to modern day photography, as its ultimate goal is simply to capture an image. What interested me about this assignment was seeing how the camera Obscura had entered into pop culture the same way modern day photography has,(though on a somewhat smaller scale).
We see this in the 1947 film, a matter of life and death, Where the camera Obscura is being shown off by Dr. Reeves to June in such a way modern viewers would expect one to show off their car or home.
This shows that despite the seeming simplicity of the camera Obscura there is still a certain amount of intellect and skill attached to its possession and application. This would help to explain why many report creating camera obscuras for grade school projects and yet bbc still sees it as a captivating television topic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuJ_Jd6Qgyo
this also helps to explain why despite being originally designed in the 15th century, artists are still exploring its artistic applications to this day. Personally I have had the camera obscura explained to me multiple times http://brightbytes.com/cosite/what.html
in artistic and scientific settings, both in elaborate, technical ways and also in plain English, allow me to help you understand, kind of ways, and still, there is an aspect about its simplicity that still baffles and fascinates me and many others in our culture today.
Link to Photos:
Here is a Link to a 1954 LIFE Magazine Where the Camera obscura is boasted about for being able to create images better than the photographic tecnology at its time. (start at page 8)
http://books.google.com/books?id=S0gEAA ... &q&f=false

And just for fun here is a link to a band In Glasgow named camera Obscura, just another way the Camera Obscura has penetrated pop culture.http://www.camera-obscura.net/discography

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Re: w01 Camera Obscura

Post by baxterwfrick » Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:45 am

-Camera Obscura Project-

According to late Renaissance era philosophers and physicists the camera obscura was a device in which light passes through a minuscule aperture (small hole), transporting an inverted ‘image’ of exterior things into a closed and darkened box or chamber, on to a facing screen, wall, etc… In Isabelle Pantin’s article on camera obscuras of the seventeenth century, she describes this phenomenon within the reaches of perspectivists who had adopted the idea of the “virtual punctiform” analysis of visible objects according to Alhazen. That is “from all points of an illuminated body issue light and color along every straight line that can be drawn from that point and thus infinite rays produced can intersect without being intermingled and disordered.” Pantin’s theory helps explain the sometimes puzzling effect of the image being inverted on the other side of the aperture. This theory was later applied in Kepler’s experiments to explain the relationships between ‘light ‘ and ‘image’.


In this image the diagram illustrates how the angle and points of light are crossed at the aperture of the box without being intermingled and producing the same image upside down.


The camera obscura was widely used for artists and in creative endeavors. As the technology evolved, the device eventually evolved as well and mirrors were placed in order to make the image return upright again. The device also became portable and allowed easy usage and for artists to easily carry and trace what ever they liked. One of the most notable contemporary users of the camera obscura is Abelardo Morell, a Cuban born photographer, known for creating camera obscura images in communities around the world.


Image shows an artist using the camera obscura to trace the image and create a work of art on paper.


Here is a camera obscura image by Morell. As you can see the chamber is a darkened bedroom (signified by the ‘bed’) and the artist has projected the outside landscape (which is inverted) onto the walls.

http://web.ebscohost.com.proxy.library. ... =4&hid=127
Found through the library database, this is the link to Patin’s article on image and light and Camera Obscuras

Website for artist Abelardo Morell


This website is a good place to find out more about camera obscuras and their histories. It also has other links to image collections taken by artists using camera obscuras.

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