In an age when every cell phone can take a respectable picture, cameras as low-tech as an oatmeal box still beguile a legion of practitioners. With roots in the ancient discovery of the camera obscura, pinhole photography has enchanted artists from the 1880s through today. April 27 through March 29, 2015, "Poetics of Light: Pinhole Photography," explores a historical art form that exemplifies thoroughly contemporary ideals: Do-it-yourself handmade technology with a dash of steampunk style.
Nearly 225 photographs and 40 cameras show how a light-tight box pierced by a hole and holding a piece of old-school film can reveal alternate versions of reality. "Poetics of Light" offers a premiere of original prints by photographers from around the world drawn from the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives' enormous collection.
Cameras on display range from machined beauties to reworked everyday objects, including a powder-puff container, a Boraxo can, a Campbell’s soup can and, yes, a Quaker Oats box. One of the most elaborate is a suit and helmet that, in 1994, photographer Ben Conrad covered with 134 cameras. After donning it, he had helpers cover him with a tarp, then remove it for 20- to 30-second exposures, the results of which will be arrayed behind the suit.
Step inside a life-sized camera obscura and try your hand at creating a tabletop version.