Campera Obscura

Focusing on the parks skyline and harvesting sunlight as source material, Horgans ‘Campera Obscura’ questions what constitutes ‘power’ in terms of the sun and solar energy.

Artist Helen Horgan brought a life size ‘Camera Obscura’ to the City View Summit of Tramore Valley Park. Constructed from a converted campervan that has become the vehicle of Horgans’ art practice, participants enter and view the surrounding Cork city skyline from a novel perspective. By creating a dark space within the van and allowing light to enter through a small hole, the external world is projected on the inside walls upside-down. Using only the power of sunlight, the process is simple but magical to behold, instilling a sense of wonder and providing the viewer with an alternative understanding of the suns ‘power’.

The first known record describing the ‘Camera Obscura’ (meaning ‘Dark Chamber’) was written by the Chinese Philosopher Mozi, in around 400bc. It’s basic principles; a darkened room with a small hole at one side through which an image is projected, provided the basis for the modern camera. In the second half of the sixteenth century lenses replaced the simple aperture and the Camera Obscura was employed as a drawing and painting tool for artists, aiding the discovery of linear perspective. The concept was developed further into the photographic camera in the first half of the nineteenth century with the addition of a light sensitive plate that could capture the image. The discovery of the Camera Obscura tells a story of how artists tools evolved over time giving rise to new forms of art and ways of seeing.

With the invention of the Camera Obscura an image could be captured directly from life for the first time, marking a seismic shift in how people could view themselves and the world. The LFTT Library van came into being in 2019 to support Horgans art practice by enabling a more sustainable, minimalist lifestyle and permitting exploration off the beaten track; for the purposes of learning about other cultures and ways of seeing. In this way it also functions as a kind of camera granting forms of immersion in perspectives not otherwise possible. Over the course of the pandemic, when Lockdowns and travel bans meant people had their perspectives dramatically shrink, the freedom and mobility The LFTT Library van supported was nothing short of wondrous.