Poetics of Light revealed enchanting imagery captured using photography’s most primitive technique: the pinhole camera.
About the exhibition
Dating back to the 1880s, the simple and ingenious process of pinhole photography involves exposure of a piece of film using light filtered through a small hole in a light-proof box. The result: a genuinely individual image.
In Poetics of Light, more than 200 photographs and 40 cameras were brought together to tell the story of contemporary pinhole photography. The exhibition explored a variety of themes, including politics and science as well as styles such as panoramic and figurative. Images ranged from refugee camps in the Sahara, to 100th anniversary celebrations for Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, and examples of still lifes from Japan.
This exhibition was drawn from the Pinhole Resource Collection, a body of work amassed by co-curators Eric Renner and Nancy Spencer in San Lorenzo, New Mexico. Poetics of Light was originally created for a two-year residence at the New Mexico History Museum, in conjunction with its curator of photography, Daniel Kosharek.
Displayed outside the USA for the first time, the collection offered an alternate vision of reality, producing a unique visual poetry.
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Pinhole photography in Bradford
In reaction to the Poetics of Light exhibition, students from the Bradford School of Art at Bradford College and Bradford Photographic Society worked to make new pinhole images. The museum asked them to look at the city of Bradford afresh, and reinterpret it using this softer visual style. The resulting artworks were on show within the exhibition; a selection can be seen in the gallery below.
“As a club whose roots stretch back to 1860, we were delighted to be asked by the museum to contribute to their Poetics of Light exhibition. Using digital cameras, the members who participated enjoyed exploring the peculiarities of pinhole photography and its effect on what makes an interesting image. We hope you like the results of our efforts.”
“Students from the Bradford School of Art were also challenged to apply pinhole photography techniques. They investigated a variety of ways to make their cameras, from household boxes and tins, to a using a 3D printer. The back-to-basics aspect of pinhole photography has captured their imaginations. As one student said in awe: ‘I just can’t believe I can make a camera out of a coffee tin!’ It did, however, take time for some students to get to grips with the softer, fuzzier aesthetic style offered by pinhole photography, but it has encouraged them to think more broadly, and we are incredibly proud of the students’ work.”
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Poetics of Light organised by New Mexico History Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico USA
Bradford images produced in conjunction with Bradford School of Art
Main image: Rosetvliders, 2010, Bethany de Forest