In the early 1800s, a number of scientific pioneers succeeded in capturing "light images", those fleeting reflections of a brightly lit scene falling through a small hole into a darkened chamber. The camera obscura, as the simple device is known, has since served as a springboard for revolutionary technological advances in camera design, simplifying the process of picture taking and producing reliably clear and focused photographs.
Despite today's ubiquity of highly sophisticated cameras – or because of it, some might argue – a small, but thriving number of photographers are drawn to pinhole photography, which starts with the far-reaching decision to do away with camera lenses and their gathering and focusing properties. In its place, a pinprick-sized hole allows light to enter a camera on its own accord. This choice results in wondrous photographs with an evenly soft definition across the entire frame, regardless of an object's distance to the camera. Due to longer exposure times, movement appears as a ghost-like blur, emphasizing its transient nature. Lensless cameras have no view finder to preview a composition, so every new image holds the potential for a surprise.
A majority of the six pinhole photographers in this exhibition enjoy building their own low-tech cameras, a fully engaging process that draws on engineering skills and a readiness to experiment. The hands-on experience also presents a welcome change of pace, leading to a deliberate slowing down and a heightened sense of presence and awareness.
The camera Ingrid Budge used to photographing an image of laundry hanging from an outdoor umbrella clothesline, is one of her creations, made from a coffee can. What started out with one object turning into another, continued with her transforming an everyday sight into a captivating and mysteriously alive image. Joanna Epstein appreciates both opportunities and "beautiful mistakes" of long exposures: leaving the shutter open for several seconds to photograph a cloudscape adds to the expressiveness of the image, while asking a cat to sit still for the same amount of time will likely be too much – or not, as we see in one of her delightful photos.
A sizeable portion of Jesús Joglar's photographic practice is devoted to solargraphy, a specialized form of lenless photography that records the sun as it moves in continually shifting arches across the sky. His solargraphs were exposed over the course of several months, resulting in thrilling images and new insights about the world around us. Thomas Hudson Reeve takes the quest to devise the simplest possible camera to a brilliant conclusion: he uses photosensitive paper to fold a box, which – after exposing and chemically processing – is unfolded. The photograph appears, the camera disappears.
Peter Wiklund gives himself with abandon to encounters with nature, elevating his photographs from mere representation of the visible to places of intense energetic shifts: the boundaries between the land, light, vegetation, and his bare body start to dissolve. Deanna Witman is often inspired by a particular feeling of a place out in the woods. Sometimes it manifests in form of a physical imprint, like the sensation of soft, cool, dewy moss touching skin, at other times, as an intangible, but no less perceptible sense of energy at a particular spot.
– Peter FahrniDirector, Forward Thinking Museum