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A workshop by Karolina Jankiewicz, a Polish photographer and intern at ARThub Madeira

What is a Camera Obscura? What do we know about it?

A camera obscura, meaning literally "darkroom" in Latin is an optical device preceding contemporary photography. This “device” has a long history and has been used by artists, scientists, and everyone else who was curious enough to observe and study the behavior of light. In the 17th and 18th centuries, it played an important role in the development of perspective in art and contributed to the understanding of the principles of optics. We had an interesting workshop led by our Erasmus + intern from Poland, a photographer Karolina.

During the workshop, we turned and transformed one room of our gallery and Art Center Caravel into a completely dark room and we were amazed by the projections we saw.

In the next few lines, our Portuguese intern, Claudia will explain how the workshop went.

Those who had the opportunity of participating in the workshop that happened July 28th by Karolina Jankiewicz, probably learn a little bit more about how you can make your own camera obscura at home.

Karolina started her workshop by first explaining that a camera obscura (dark chamber) is a darkened room with a small hole or lens at one side, through which an image is projected onto a wall or table opposite to the hole. It can also be referred to as a box or tent in which an exterior image is projected inside.

For this workshop, Karolina had envisioned for us, the participants, to first help her turn a whole room into a camera obscura and after, make our own camera obscura with a paper box.

In order for this to happen, we had to paint our paper boxes on the inside with black paint and let it dry completely.

While our boxes were drying, Karolina took us to the room where the camera obscura would happen. There, we started by covering every single door and window with black bags and black fabrics. The key for your own camera obscura to work is to not have a single ray of light infiltrate the room. Ours had a couple of leaks, so we had to go through them a second time with black duct tape.

Once the whole room was completely pitch black, Karolina cut a small hole on one of the bags that was taped to the window, therefore projecting the image from outside into the whiteboard we had put in front of the window.

What left the participants surprised was the fact that the image project from the outside was upside down. No one expected that to happen.

We even had a little funny moment, as a woman who was standing on the other side of the street outside the gallery, was projected onto the whiteboard and looked like a little cartoon upside down.

Succeeding our camera obscura, we went back to our boxes so we could finish them. It was time to close them and the same as for the room, we had to seal up every corner where light might come in.

Now instead of cutting a hole on the wall, we cut a hole in the boxes. On one side a hole appropriate for the size of our box and on the other side, opposite to the hole we just made, a needle size hole just enough to peek through and see the projection of the outside.

This part was more tricky. Not everyone was able to see something out of their boxes. Either because the needle hole was too small or because there was light peeking from outside.

Even if we couldn't see from our own boxes, Karolina gave us all a chance to see from a box that “was working”. Afterward, everyone had a chance to see from the box, and the workshop was concluded.

I applaud Karolina for making a workshop that not only was fun but also very informative and educational. An amazing first step for the young photographer.

Now, after you read words and thoughts about the workshop from Claudia, you already know that camera obscura consists of a darkened chamber or box with a small hole or aperture on one side. When light from outside passes through this aperture, an inverted image of the external scene is projected onto the opposite inner surface of the chamber. AND THAT CAN EASILY BE MADE AT HOME.

This WORKSHOP is part of the ArtLid Erasmus+ project, being just one of the numerous workshops made available for people living on Madeira Island by ARTE.M Association and ARThub Madeira at no cost.

That’s right, we offer free workshops and these workshops are made for enthusiastic young and emerging artists who have a genuine eagerness to expand their knowledge and their creative horizons.

So, IF YOU ARE an individual keen on diving deeper into art-related subjects, you have an open invitation to our artsy place.

Join us at ARThub Madeira where we offer a lot of opportunities and possibilities.

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