Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Artists that Inspire: Abelardo Morell

 View of Central Park Looking North-Summer, 2008

Blurry Upright Camera Obscura: Santa Maria della Salute with Scaffolding in Palazzo Bedroom, 2007

 View of the Brooklyn Bridge in Bedroom, 2009

The Pantheon in Hotel Albergo Del Sole al Pantheon, Room # 111, Rome, Italy, 2008 

 Santa Maria della Salute in Palazzo Bedroom, Venice, Italy, 2006

View of Florence Looking Northwest Inside Bedroom. Italy, 2009

So yesterday I briefly touched on early 3D technology, or the stereoscope. It uses our natural depth perception to its advantage and through two slightly different images creates a third image that our eye perceives has depth or three dimensions; height, width and depth. Now I'm moving on to another invention, the camera obscura or Latin for 'dark room'. If you go into a totally dark room and make a small hole to the bright outside the image from outside will appear on the opposite wall upside down! Why? Because for the simple fact that light travels in a straight line and when it bounces off of a bright object and passes through a small hole in a thin surface it will not scatter but cross and appear upside down.1 The earliest form of this was in the 5th century B.C. created by the Chinese philosopher Mo-Ti who created a 'locked treasure room' using a pinhole in a dark space. It was also used by Leonardo de Vinci, and as I mentioned earlier Vermeer. Since the perspective was preserved perfectly it was often used to aid in painting. It also was the precursor for the modern camera and the overhead projector we remember from school.
from Leonardo de Vinci's notebook2

With Morell's work I really enjoy the magical quality to the pieces. While the technology is old, it still never fails to impress at it's 'magic'. In some ways it reminds me of why we still go to theatres and enjoy being taken away. Why we hold onto our suspention of disbelief; we still have wonder. This innate sense of wonder coupled with the juxtoposition of the empty room; somewhat desolate or abandoned, like a hotel room far away from home coupled with the astounding images of color and life creates a true sense of awe and enjoyment at images we may have seen many times. Places that are famous but when recreated reignite my sense of joy in their beauty. 

From Morell on his own work:

"I made my first picture using camera obscura techniques in my darkened living room in 1991. In setting up a room to make this kind of photograph, I cover all windows with black plastic in order to achieve total darkness. Then, I cut a small hole in the material I use to cover the windows. This opening allows an inverted image of the view outside to flood onto the back walls of the room. Typically then I focused my large-format camera on the incoming image on the wall then make a camera exposure on film. In the beginning, exposures took from five to ten hours.
Over time, this project has taken me from my living room to all sorts of interiors around the world. One of the satisfactions I get from making this imagery comes from my seeing the weird and yet natural marriage of the inside and outside.
A few years ago, in order to push the visual potential of this process, I began to use color film and positioned a lens over the hole in the window plastic in order to add to the overall sharpness and brightness of the incoming image. Now, I often use a prism to make the projection come in right side up. I have also been able to shorten my exposures considerably thanks to digital technology, which in turn makes it possible to capture more momentary light. I love the increased sense of reality that the outdoor has in these new works .The marriage of the outside and the inside is now made up of more equal partners."

See more of Morell's work at

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