Taken (a camera obscura van project)

2003 - 2008 | performance , video , featured

A van was converted into a mobile camera obscura in order to replicate aspects of a retinal inversion experiment performed by George Stratton in 1896. Stratton`s experiment worked to question how true and immutable one’s perception of the world actually is. In the experiment, Stratton wore a special pair of glasses that inverted his visual field for an extended period of time: three days for a first test and up to 13 days in later tests. Initially, the glasses were very disorienting for Stratton, but after many hours, he found that he was fully able to adjust to this upside down image of the world. In fact, he adjusted so well that when he eventually removed the glasses, he discovered that his “normal” vision had now become unfamiliar and disorienting.

For , viewers go on a 20 to 30 minute journey, during which they are totally immersed in the inverted, camera obscura, environment within the van. Although, not nearly as long as Stratton’s original experiment, the journey is sufficient to create a transition from a very disorienting (possibly even carsickness inducing) experience, to a state where one can begin to recognize features in the landscape and even figure out their location within the city.

Links: Artist Statement