Outside-in, upside-down
— and now in color!

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 this 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