Abelardo Morell travels the world and converts full-size rooms (some spare, some ornately rococo) into immense camera obscura devices. He brings the outside in through a tiny pin-hole, and by the alchemy of optics, the outside is projected quite naturally upside down superimposing and hugging the surfaces of everything in the room. Then, he photographs the resulting “installation” with his 8 x 10 view camera and enlarges the prints to mural size.
The effect is dizzying and delightful. And the photographs get better
and better as you study them and soak in the exquisite overlapping details.
Morell who teaches photography at the Massachusetts College of Art and
Princeton University, became famous for his black-and white camera obscura
images (as well as other black-and-white subject matter). However, he
just recently started to explore using color film, and in many ways, the
results are even more realistically rich and unnervingly set free from
the laws of gravity.
Writing about a one-man show that included Morell’s new work in
color, at Benrubi in NYC, the New Yorker quipped: “In the most spectacular
of the latter series, a wall of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, stripped
of everything but a de Chirico and some picture hooks, glows with the
projected image of the museum’s façade, all the more marvelous
for being flipped on its head.”
In a great audio interview
for Lens Culture, Morell talks about: his first camera obscura discoveries;
his own delight and surprise at working with color; why he shifted from
using a 35mm camera for ‘decisive moment' photography to the slowed-down
intentionality of working with an 8 x 10 view camera; and why he will
never again stay in the room during the required 8-hour exposures
– it was an hallucinatory nightmare!
? Jim Casper
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