Camera Obscura and Optical Experiments

April 30, 2011 § 2 Comments

Artist in Residence X Church Gainsborough

I was invited to take part in this arts council funded artist in residence scheme at X-church Gainsborough. I decided to turn this vast Victorian church into a multi-holed Camera Obscura.

The Church Camera obscura was split into 3 sections.

1. Two apertures on the main windows which produced a forty foot Image, which projected the sun at sunset.

2.A multi-holed Rear projection camera obscura,based John Herschels Star map of the Milky way .Each hole is a image and was installed in the front door so it pulsed with the wind (the image moved constantly in and out of focus)

3.In the middle of the church I blacked out the windows leaving the top of the window arches to produce a slit camera obscura.

Main Projection Screen

Main projection screen (producing 40 foot image)

Projection on church pillar

Slit Aperture projecting the window chevrons

Slit Apertures

The sun being projected and moving around the interior of the church

Multi-holed rear projection obscura of John Herschel star map of the milky way

The church before the blacking out of all windows

Starting to make this vast space light tight

Erecting scaffolding to black out the church windows

History of X church

Slumgothic derives from “Slum Gothic”, a characterization of the architectural style of x-church, formerly the Church of St. John the Divine, Gainsborough. Slumgothic hosts resident artists and sporadically delivers visual arts led projects, often with deliberately low budgets. Est. 2006

Slumgothic is partnering with  BendInTheRiver to present:

Cold Witness
x-church visual arts events on Saturdays
September 2011 – March 2012

X-church is ostensibly derelict and is closed much more than it is open. It has none of the normal gallery attributes – white walls, bright lights etc. It was a church, an ex church more than it is anything else. Some people call these buildings ‘meanwhile spaces’, places waiting for something definite to happen. The value of the building for what it communicates as it is, as it now is – battered and bruised, largely abandoned by the transient community that has grown up around it. Tough as it is there is no doubt that artists value the challenge of working at x-church  and residencies have demonstrably moved artists on. It is also true that the building can contribute to the regeneration of its neighbourhood, but only if people are physically there, on the ground.

The building is unheated and this autumn/winter we will be working with Slumgothic to deliver a program of visual art events in the cold. A visit to x-church is wrong-footing and experience tells us that people are wary of the building and its lack of comfort so we are gambling that a less comfortable experience is potentially a more meaningful one. A tough offer in tough times. We don’t want people to casually drift by, we want them to see the work, witness it.

On reflection our involvement with Slumgothic has opened up an ongoing dialogue around location. It could be argued that at every level the visual arts is preoccupied with where to put things and for some time now BendInTheRiver has not known where to put itself. It has  become a mentally itinerant and the fixed address at 54 has sat heavily like an ill-digested meal.

When St John’s was a church the focus was on Sundays. Going forward x-church will focus on Saturdays. This season heralds a new era for BendInTheRiver. One in which we will work more incisively in more places.

Ongoing Camera Obscura experiments

I am currently building a large Camera Obscura based on Sir John Herschel Star Map of the Milky Way.This immersive enviroment that I am building that consits of a Camera Obscura Starmap,so when the viewer enters the Camera Obscuras dark chamber they are confronted with hundreds of small apertures all producing images in the shape of the Milky Way.

This project references early texts and representations of the night sky as well as ideas of navigation,simulation,geocentricism and the peculiar nature of light.

I am also currently building wearable Pinhole Viewers that emulate the experience of being inside a Camera Obscura.This new work explores immersive enviroments and how our vision and perception of objects is easily fooled.Over the next couple of months I will be posting my encounters with Camera Obscuras,telescopic tubes,magnifers,zograscopes,magic mirrors,skewed perspectives,divination boxes,and an array of optical Philosphical machines: which were collectively know in the 1700`s as “pleasing deceptions”.

Come back and view a phantasmagoric spectacle of visual illusions,and join me on a  peusdo- scientific journey of the senses that will be full of philosophical speculation and creative problem solving.

Star Map Wearable Pinhole Viewer

The Milky Way after Herschel

Stranger: Memories

February 8, 2011 § 9 Comments

This project is a result of me producing images of other people’s memories that I have mined from the internet on various social media sites. These people have befriended me online but are not people I have met in person.

Each image is produced by a long exposure focussed on a computer screen while browsing a stranger’s social media images he or she has posted on their Flickr and Facebook accounts.

I have access to people’s memories, vacations and celebrations which I record in one single-image; a portrait of someone I do not know.

The resulting images are layers of images and time within someone’s life. This project investigates how we disseminate and share images in the public domain and makes us consider issues of representation and privacy.

This series also investigates what happens to people’s online memories when someone dies. What are the implications of us making all our information available online? Social media is currently popular but what happens if this ceases to be the case: what happens to our memories and who will have access to them?

Stranger Project

April 9, 2010 § 4 Comments

Look out for the forthcoming interview about my practice in the Hub Magazine ;

Check out my Interview with author of the pinhole camera; Brian J. Kummel

The stranger project.

This project consists of  images that are made by using mail art and pinhole photography, to examine the role of the `stranger` in society and why we are interested in people we don’t know. These images show chance encounters and intimate double exposure visual portraits,of people who have not met in person and only meet by the mediated gaze of the pinhole camera.I take a portrait of myself then randomly pick an address from a telephone directory,send it to this address and the recipient does the same.

These portraits relate to the  way we remotely interact with others in the information age.The etheral images presented in this body of work  have Anonymous feeling and spiritual presence,two humans doing same act merging physiognomical features and gazes in one exposure.

Jamie`s Pinhole cameras

April 8, 2009 § Leave a comment

Below are selection of pinhole cameras i have constructed from materials or objects found at particulater  sites,these sculptural pieces are fully functional and the resulting images taken with the cameras have a symbiotic relationship to the camera: The sheep skull camera will be used to photograph sheep in a nearby field.Please check back to view the images these cameras have made.

Pinhole camera made from hundreds of shells.

Pinhole camera made from hundreds of shells.

Pinhole camera made from found pottery and china.

Pinhole camera made from found pottery and china.

Pinhole camera made from glass.

Pinhole camera made from glass.

Pinhole image produced with the glass camera.

Pinhole image produced with the glass camera.


Skull found by Rosie Gibson converted into a two lens camera by Jamie House

Skull found by Rosie Gibson converted into a two lens camera by Jamie House

Pinhole Journey Project

April 6, 2009 § Leave a comment

Pinhole artists: Jamie House (U.K) and Jo Babcock (U.S.A) are collaborating by sending Pinhole cameras through the post to each other disguised as parcels using the postal system as the factor that controls the journey and exposure,when the parcel cannot physically hold any more stamps the project ends.

This project will record the journey of a parcel.The camera`s pinhole lens tracing the journey with light,recording a constant flow of time through long exposures,showing  a multiplicity of instants.

Please check back for images of the progress of this project…

Meantime go to:

Pinhole parcel camera

Pinhole parcel camera

Pinhole Parcel Camera sent back from San Fransisco.

Pinhole Parcel Camera sent back from San Fransisco.

Pinhole image taken by a pinhole camera disguised as a parcel.

Pinhole image taken by a pinhole camera disguised as a parcel.

Camera obscura at Trerice

April 6, 2009 § Leave a comment

Jamie House and Justin Quinnell

Largest Camera Obscura in England

The largest camera obscura in England is being constructed at the 16th century National Trust property of Trerice in Cornwall in May 25th – 28th

The unique double pavilion marquee design, the only one of its type in the world, will include:

  • A light exploration chamber, recreating experiments carried out by Aristotle and Isaac Newton.
  • A walk through time line corridor showing the history of optics since the building of Trerice in 1575
  • A final camera obscura projecting an inverted image of Trerice.

The interactive walk-in structure will be designed and built by pinhole photographers Justin Quinnell and Jamie House, two of the most cutting edge artists of this type in Europe.

Justin says:

“In these ‘pixel hungry’ times we hope this obscura will allow people of all ages to discover the simple wonder within the quality of light and encourage fascination with science and art.”

Jamie House says:

“Prepare yourself for a phantasmorgic spectacle of light, shadow, mirrors and much more…Don’t miss this chance to view the grounds of this wonderful Elizabethan manor house in new and exciting ways.”

The obscura will include opportunities for perspective drawing, experiments with mirrors, prisms, pinholes, lenses and slots, and the recreation of experiments which were the cutting edge of art and science in the 15th Century, the time Trerice was built.

There will also be a Gnomen positioned upon the tent to acting as a primitive sundial.

Justin Quinnell is a part time lecturer at University College Falmouth and at universities around the UK. He is the pinhole photography consultant for the forthcoming Rachel Weisz movie, ‘The Brothers Bloom’ UK publicist for World Pinhole Day and his book ‘Make your own paper camera’ is to be published in September. One of his 6-month duration images was NASA’s astronomical photo of the day in January.

Jamie House, experimental pinhole photographer of note, makes his own pinhole cameras from: balloons, art deco, make-up boxes, and parcels. He collaborates with artists around the world and is currently working with pinhole photographer Jo Babcock (USA). His most recent exhibitions include Dali Gallery, Southbank London and Brighton photo fringe festival, and Ersatz camera work exhibition, San Francisco (U.S.A).

f.f.i Please contact:

Laura Martin
Learning Officer (
West Cornwall) National Trust


Kestle Mill




Justin Quinnell

Jamie House

Create your own simple Camera Obscura:

Pinhole Litter Project

April 3, 2009 § Leave a comment


A global enviromental art project using Pinhole Photography and mail art.


Participants wanted to take part in a collaborative pinhole project that will help us clean up and re-engage with our surroundings, as well as learn about the art of pinhole photography.

Jamie invites anyone to take part in this collaborative project. He will work with people worldwide to collect discarded drinks cans, which he will convert into home-made pinhole cameras.

Later participants will use these cans to take photographs of the environment they where found in, the aim is to replace litter with a creative vision, the cans are later recycled.

Benefits: The opportunity to take part in a global project that will culminate in your work featuring on the project website and in print as a series of books.

Deadline: Ongoing.


Pinhole Litter News


Time has been precious lately; building camera obscura`s  and teaching….But i am back on track now making pinhole cans daily!!

So thank you everyone for sending me discarded cans for me to transform..

I was delighted the other day to be woken up by the postman with a beautifull packaged parcel of cans and images,from pinhole master Gregg Kemp…..

Then a two week later another parcel with twenty cans in from the U.S.A..

Thanks chaps..Keep clearing the streets!!

Watch the video:

Participtants Involved so far….

Jamie Hard at work
Jamie Hard at work

Drinks cans converted into Pinhole cameras
Drinks cans converted into Pinhole camera

DSCN0051 Correction

The boxes of Pinhole cans are mounting up!!


Over twenty Pinhole Cans from the U.S.A !!


Two discarded cans from New York City ready to be made into Pinhole cameras..


Three beautifully packaged cans from pinhole master Gregg Kemp all the way from the U.S.A.


A ghostly Pinhole negative from one of greggs cans.

Hello world!

March 10, 2009 § 2 Comments

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