When photography involved patient sittings, stinky chemicals and a certain amount of luck there was also mystery, magic, and risk – a lost romance, like vinyl records, or even the tape cassettes that Currys have just announced they will no longer be stocking. Now, instant images are everywhere. Having a camera on your phone, in your bag, and on every street corner may be a modern miracle but it’s as romantic as Big Brother.
From this Friday to Saturday week David Harradine and Greg Piggot are hoping to bring the magic and chance of photography to the Battersea Arts Centre with their Camera Obscura project – a week long event using the earliest ever photographic device.
David Harradine told Londonist that this project was “all about the historical connection with photography, and the relationship that used to exist between sitter camera.”
The camera in this instance is an 8ft white cube with a pinhole in it. The sitters will be required to sit as still as possible facing intense lights for 20 minutes. Five minutes or so later a spectral 15”x20” image in produced, with as much or as little motion blur as your fidget level dictates.
Harradine says the project was as much about exploring the 'theatre of the sittings', as the finished results. The photographs will however be displayed in an ever growing gallery around the camera in the evenings. The camera will be available for inspection, like a piece of installation art.
25 people associated with the BAC, which is celebrating its 25th birthday, have already been selected as subjects. The remaining 25 portraits will be of members of the public who phone up and volunteer.
Each will be given a copy of the image as a souvenir. But be warned. Harradine assures Londonist that whilst sitting for 20 minutes in front of their camera it is almost impossible not to reveal something of your real self.
In other words their camera really doesn’t lie.
Gallery Opening Hours:
Fri 11–Sat 12 & Tue 15–Sat 19 May
6.30pm–10.30pm; Sun 13 May 5pm–10.30pm
Sittings (by appointment only): Thurs 10–Fri 11 & Mon 14–Fri 18 May, various times between 2pm and 3.45pm.
For further details visit the BAC website.
By Russ Coffey
Published May 2007