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Science and Media Museum

Poetics of Light: Pinhole Photography

Poetics of Light reveals 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 are brought together to tell the story of contemporary pinhole photography. The exhibition explores a variety of themes, including politics and science as well as styles such as panoramic and figurative, and is truly global in scope. Images range from refugee camps in the Sahara, to 100th anniversary celebrations for Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, and examples of still lifes from Japan.

The exhibition is 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 offers an alternate vision of reality, producing a unique visual poetry.

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 are on show within the exhibition, and a selection can be seen in the gallery below.


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

Thanks to