Since 2003, I have been collecting books that I convert into working pinhole cameras. These include dictionaries, science, history and art books, because of their important visual content. Any light-proof container can be made into a camera. In this case a book is hollowed out (like a prop from a detective novel) with a pinhole in the cover of the book. Books are not entirely light-proof, so light can leak through the side of the book onto the photo paper inside. This photogram effect creates many layers of visual information in one image. I have made a point of photographing subjects related to the content of the books I use.
I started working on these pinhole camera book pieces in 2003 with my excavation and re purposing of a 1960 Petit Larousse French Dictionary into a camera. As I cut through the book it revealed fascinating juxtapositions of illustrations on different pages that would never have been seen otherwise. I documented those changing “inter-sections” as I transformed the book into a camera. I enjoy the way these portals through the pages have created visual links within the books that would normally never happen. Faces on one page get to peak through to a world on another page.
These books and images were featured in a solo exhibition called Reading Room at the Cambridge Galleries, Ontario in 2011. A number of books in the exhibition were saved from The Cambridge Libraries deaccessioning pile.
“Wall Atlas” was part of the Reading Room exhibition. Wall Atlas was a camera obscura installation. A lens was installed in a darkened window on the other side of the Wall Atlas book. The view from outside was projected through the lens onto a screen in the cut-out space where earth appeared in the Atlas.