One of Australia’s most acclaimed photographers has revealed Brisbane’s buildings and landmarks from a stunning new perspective with camera obscura – an ancient technique used by the likes of Aristotle, Leonardo da Vinci and even Karl Marx.
The breathtakingly beautiful results, most of which will be shown for the first time, will feature in Museum of Brisbane’s specially commissioned exhibition, Robyn Stacey: Cloud Land.
Opening Friday 18 September, the exhibition is a camera obscura spectacle, an historical form of image making, which works by allowing light through a tiny hole, projecting a scene from the outside onto an inside surface.
The process is recreated with ambitious scale in Cloud Land, transforming the interiors of high-rise hotels, offices and institutional spaces by wallpapering them with an image of the world outside their windows.
Upside down and back-to-front images of iconic Brisbane landmarks like the Story Bridge and Boggo Road Gaol are wrapped around the photographer’s subjects in dreamlike scenarios that provoke the viewer to imagine what might play out within the four walls.
The vivid exhibition marks a new direction for Robyn Stacey, who is known for her striking photographs of historical collections and demonstrates the artist’s fascination in exploring the juncture between art and science through photography.
Raised in Brisbane, she has exhibited nationally and internationally since the 1980s, most recently at National Gallery of Australia, Queensland Art Gallery, Monash Gallery of Art, Australian Centre for Photography and Association of International Photography Art Dealers (New York).
Stacey says the transience of camera obscura led her to explore the temporary role of certain rooms and the metamorphosis of cities.
“Images created by the camera obscura only exist for a couple of hours, as it is dependent on the position of the sun in relation to the room and as light travels in a straight line, it creates upside-down, reversed and distorted visual effects, producing surreal and psychological spaces,” she says.
“This got me thinking about the ever-changing nature and renewal that is characteristic of the modern metropolis and the rooms and city serve as emblems of transience, with the process of transformation seeping through each image.”
“Through the theatrical and distorted view of the camera obscura, a roving, fragmented and fleeting experience of contemporary life is revealed.”
Museum of Brisbane Director, Peter Denham says the collaboration with Stacey continued the Museum’s mission to look at the city through the eyes of artists.
“I saw Robyn’s first work with camera obscura and thought it would be a fantastic coup for Brisbane if she would explore different spaces here,” he says.
“Robyn’s photographs show huge imagination – each image is rich and powerful, capturing how the city is forever changing and making you feel like you are being dropped into the room.
“The exhibition will also feature a live camera obscura experience, allowing visitors to interact with the visual effects produced by this technique.”
Robyn Stacey: Cloud Land will run from Friday 18 September to 3 April 2016 at the Museum of Brisbane on level three of Brisbane City Hall.