Photography has never been my favoutite art form so I was a bit apprehensive about this lab. I value photography immensely and snap pictures all day long but these little pieces of imagery I collect I find are used more to inform my work rather than being the work themselves. I have to say I found the initial introduction to this lab extremely enlightening. We were shown a camera obscura in action which completely blew my mind, learnt how to use the dark room which was equally exciting and we’re shown a range of exciting pinhole artists that took pictures in their mouths and tracked the sky over months of exposure. I completely loved it. However the purpose of the lab was to actually construct our own working camera then create a panoramic image, this felt a bit out of reach within a week. However we got struck straight in and I came up with the design for our final camera which would be segmented into four cameras to take an image of all four group members sat in a circle.
We constructed it out of cardboard and took extra care to ensure the camera was light tight making sure every where was tightly taped up and every corner was painted black. The whole process felt fairly uncreative whereas in other labs there was emphasis on being experimental this one felt fairly rigid. We had a rigid plan and process and a clear final outcome, in fine art when I’m making the outcome is usually wildly different from the intent because of the natural ‘growth’ a piece goes through where it becomes itself along the way.
Our completed camera was taped up and loaded with paper but after two attempts capturing and developing the pictures they were over exposed and completely un usable. The camera hadn’t worked. With an already made camera we were able to capture some photos but without really the experience and the skill set it was impossible to produce something really creative and inventive because the necessary underlying basic skills still weren’t fully developed.
I felt it was a bit impossible to produce something extraordinary with just a week understanding how a pinhole camera functions, more photography experienced students naturally had better outcomes and I felt success was determined more by previous experience and groups without that struggled. I did really value learning how to use the dark room and the basis of skills I gained and look forward to I developing that knowledge over time. Our team worked really well together and I think this is the only lab where I was part of a team where we were all equally inspired and active within the group, we worked well together and shared in the sadness when our little cardboard creation wasn’t fit for purpose. I don’t think I could have got that far doing the same thing on my own, while we couldn’t get the camera to work there were so many attempts where we endeavoured to problem solve its failures, re adjusting and then retrying. Unfortunately nobody in the group was very photography minded or experienced with pinhole cameras, had that been the case I’m confident that with the amount of sheer effort and work we’d put in the camera would have come off.