The Camera Obscura in Modern Times

10/26/2012 § Leave a comment

So today I was talking to my coworkers about the amazing optical phenomenon that is the camera obscura. I went online to look for some examples and I came across the work of photographer Abelardo Morell.

Abelardo has been taking these “travel” photographs since the early 90’s starting with black and white film moving into color and finally digital photography. He uses this optical device first discovered in the 5th century B.C. to fuse the inside with the outside creating literal yet ethereal images. From Times Square to Florence’s Baptistry, Abelardo has traveled the world documenting these camera obscuras.

Manhattan View Looking South in Large Room, 1996 (Abelardo Morell)

The Brooklyn Bridge in bedroom, 1997 (Abelardo Morell)

Umbrian Landscape in Empty Room, Umbertide, Italy 2000 (Abelardo Morell)

Castle Courtyard in Bedroom, Italy 1999 (Abelardo Morell)

Havana Looking Southeast in Room with Ladder, 2002 (Abelardo Morell)

Grand Canal Looking West Toward the Accademia Bridge in Palazzo Room Under Construction, 2007 (Abelardo Morell)

Camera Obscura: View of Central Park Looking North-Summer, 2008 (Abelardo Morell)

Camera Obscura: View of Landscape Outside Florence in Room With Bookcase, 2009 (Abelardo Morell)

Camera Obscura: 5:04 AM Sunrise Over the Atlantic Ocean. Rockport, Massachusetts, June 17th, 2009 (Abelardo Morell)

Camera Obscura: View of Times Square in Hotel Room, 2010 (Abelardo Morell)

The camera obscura is created by blocking out all the light in a room and then creating a pinhole (small hole) on one of the sides (that faces the view you want to capture) allowing the view outside to be projected onto the opposite wall, upside down. Why does this happen? Light travels in straight lines and when some rays reflected from a bright object pass  through a small opening with a thin surface, instead of dispersing, these rays reconstruct as an upside down image on the flat surface opposite the hole.

Artists such as Leonardo da Vinci used the camera obscura as a drawing tool using it to project views onto the canvas/paper and sketching over them. There is a much disputed debate about whether advances in realism in the art of the early Renaissance occurred due to the aid of optical devices such as the camera obscura (Hockney-Falco thesis).

To learn how to make your own camera obscura click here!

NOW: Summer Lovin’, NYC Farming + Timeless Objects

07/09/2011 § Leave a comment

1. Okay so browsing through my bookmarks of favorite blogs I came across thismodernromance and was reminded of how stunning and truly romantic is the work of this husband + wife team of photographers. I insist, you must browse their portfolio of latest work for a dose of this sweetness!

2. Last month Hospitality Design Magazine released their 2011 Design Awards and this laid-back industrial-cool New York spot stole a Best Green/Sustainable Project Award. Bell Book & Candle, designed by Grade Architecture & Interior Design, has an aeroponic roof-top tower garden where they grow 60% of the fresh produce that goes into their dishes. Their menus also constantly change according to what’s growing upstairs. Talk about vertical farming!

3. So last but not least, while shopping for a client on my day job this week I spruced on up into this gorgeous store in Miami’s Design District only to find an amazing collection of the most beautiful and sophisticated furniture and accessories! Even if you have no plans to purchase it’s honestly worth a “window-shop” for any interior-design enthusiast! Michael Dawkins Home.

Have a beautiful weekend!


THE SHOP: Plant the Future

GIO PONTI: The 20th Century’s Renaissance Man

HOLGA, WHO?: Toy Cameras

EDWARD WESTON: Clouds, Trees, Water

07/02/2011 § 3 Comments

Artist Feature, vol. 6



Though Weston is mostly known for his still lifes of inanimate objects such as peppers and cabbage leaves, his landscapes explored the same subject of form that guided most of his work. Here, in Clouds, Trees, Water Weston captured the flora and scenery at Point Lobos,CA and the desert landscape of Oceano,CA.

If you look closely through his images you’ll note why Edward was a part of the f/64 group (which included legendary landscape photographer Ansel Adams). His images often employed the use of deep depth of field allowing for all planes of the images to be crisp and in focus (achieved through closing the aperture to f-stop 64). As in his still lifes, curves, cracks and shadows seem to bring the objects to life as Weston’s compositions create movement, contrast, and texture.

Perhaps intentionally, or not, you can start to see traces of human characteristics in these images. Limbs within clouds. Bodies within trunks. Faces within stones. You back up to recognize your imagination is playing with your sight but nonetheless clues suggesting anthropomorphism are in place. Now I wonder, did Weston see the same mirages and were they what drove him to take these photographs in the first place?

oak 1929

Oak 1929, Edward Weston

Iceburg Lake 1937, Edward Weston

Iceburg Lake 1937, Edward Weston

Cypress Point Lobos 1929, Edward Weston

Cypress Point Lobos 1929, Edward Weston

Cypress Point Lobos 1930, Edward Weston

Cypress Point Lobos 1930, Edward Weston

Rain Over Modoc Lava Beds 1937, Edward Weston

Rain Over Modoc Lava Beds 1937, Edward Weston

White Sands 1946, Edward Weston

White Sands 1946, Edward Weston

Oceano 1936, Edward Weston

Oceano 1936, Edward Weston

Untitled Rock Formations, Edward Weston

Untitled Rock Formations, Edward Weston

Surf 1938, Edward Weston

Surf 1938, Edward Weston

Oregon Coast 1939, Edward Weston

Oregon Coast 1939, Edward Weston

Tracks in Sand, Edward Weston

Tracks in Sand, Edward Weston

White Dunes, Edward Weston

White Dunes, Edward Weston


The Case Study Houses

06/25/2011 § Leave a comment

In post-war Southern California the residential housing boom inspired a group of prominent architects sponsored by Arts and Architecture Magazine to tackle what they saw as the current issues in the typical American home. Each architect was to deal with one of these problems and resolve it in the best way they saw fit using materials and methods that would be readily available and easily duplicated. The program that was to be known as the Case Study Houses ran from 1945 up until 1966.

The group of architects included many of the big names of Mid-Century Modern design. These included Richard Neutra, Pierre Koenig, Charles Eames, Eero Saarinen, Rodney Walker, and JR Davidson. Many of the Houses (such as #22 on the left) were shot for the magazine by the now infamous photographer, Julias Shulman.

The Case Study Homes changed the way Americans lived and built their homes. These West Coast models were soon transported throughout the country. The Stahl residence (#22), probably the most well-known of the Case Study homes, became an icon of American design and the new optimistic “Modern” way of life.

The homes generally sought to blur the lines between inside and outside by using innovative curtain wall building technologies that would allow for wide spans of glass. By placing load-bearing steel columns on a grid on the interior of the home, the facades would be free of structural responsibilities. The floor plan of the American home was Modernized by opening up walls and blending functions into large spaces; thus the marriage of the living, dining and kitchen to create the Great Room. The architects also extended the living space to the exterior by incorporating elements such as pools, large overhangs and paved decks that would further encourage the use of the outdoor room.

House #22 by Pierre Koenig

House #22 by Pierre Koenig

House #22 by Pierre Koenig

House #22 by Pierre Koenig

House #21 by Pierre Koenig

House #21 by Pierre Koenig

House #20 by Pierre Koenig

House #20 by Pierre Koenig

House #16 by Rodney Walker

House #16 by Rodney Walker

House #9 by Eames and Saarineen

House #9 by Eames & Saarinen

House #9 Eames & Saarinen

House #8 by Charles and Ray Eames

House #8 by Charles and Ray Eames

House #8 by Charles and Ray Eames

House #7 by Thornton Abell

House #7 by Thornton Abell

House #6 by Richard Neutra

House #6 by Richard Neutra

House #5 by Whitney R. Smith

House #4 by Ralph Rapson

House #3 by Wurster & Bernardi

House #2 by Spaulding & Rex

House #1 by J.R. Davidson

WALK THROUGHS: Modern Ocean Penthouse

03/23/2011 § Leave a comment

These are photos from one of the most recent projects from Miami based interior design firm DKOR Interiors.

The design of the ocean-front penthouse borrows from the seashore nearby it’s curvilinear forms, organic textures and abundant light accentuated with the repetition of white. The result? An airy modern beach house in the sky.

Photos by Renata Bastos


03/06/2011 § 1 Comment

Artist Feature vol. 4

This past week at the TED Miami event I heard Edith Widder the marine biologist state that more than 90% of the Earth is ocean. Yet there is still so much we do not know about the oceans and the seemingly infinite variety of creatures that inhabit them.

The ocean evokes so many connotations from it’s mighty power and volume to the serene tranquility of it’s vastness. The Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto captured the essence of these waters in his breathtaking meditative series entitled “Seascapes“.

North Atlantic Ocean, Cliffs of Mother I by Sugimoto

Sea of Japan, 1997 by Sugimoto

Aegean Sea, Pillon 1990 by Sugimoto

North Atlantic Ocean, Cape Breton 1996 by Sugimoto

Baltic Sea, near Rugen, 1996 by Sugimoto

Ligurian Sea, near Saviore 1993 by Sugimoto

” Water and air. So very commonplace are these substances, they hardly attract 

attention―and yet they vouchsafe our very existence.

The beginnings of life are shrouded in myth: Let there water and air. Living phenomena
spontaneously generated from water and air in the presence of light, though that could 

just as easily suggest random coincidence as a Deity. Let’s just say that there happened
to be a planet with water and air in our solar system, and moreover at precisely the right
distance from the sun for the temperatures required to coax forth life. While hardly inconceivable that at least one such planet should exist in the vast reaches of universe, we search in vain for another similar example.

Mystery of mysteries, water and air are right there before us in the sea. Every time I view

the sea, I feel a calming sense of security, as if visiting my ancestral home; I embark on a

voyage of seeing. ”

Hiroshi Sugimoto

VIK MUNIZ & Wasteland

02/06/2011 § 5 Comments

Artist Feature, vol. 3

"Marat (Sebastiao)" Vik Muniz, 2008

If you haven’t yet heard, this Brazilian native turned world-renowned visual artist went to one of the largest dumpsters in the world (Jardim Gramacho outside of Rio de Janeiro) to create portraits of the “catadores”. The catadores are the individuals who work at the site separating recyclable materials from general waste. This 2011 Oscar nominated documentary entitled “Wasteland” shows Vik and his colleagues throughout the course of a year getting to know each of these characters and their lives as he develops an “image” for the project.

He decides to depict each of them in a series called “Pictures of Garbage” through iconic images of art history such as Jacques-Louis David’s 1793 “The Death of Marat” for Marat (Sebastiao), Pablo Picasso’s 1904 “Woman Ironing” for “Woman Ironing (Isis)” and Atlas, the Titan who held up the world for “Atlas (Carla0)”. This remaking of iconic images has of course been done before. Vik’s originality here lies, as in most of his work, in his choice of medium and context. He photographs these images then projects them from say 40 feet in the air down to the ground. He and the catadores then arrange hundreds of objects found in the landfill to recreate the image out of pure waste. This final sculptural piece is photographed and becomes the final image.

The work is thought provoking and inspiring as his process changes the way we think art is created and achieved. But truly the most impactful aspect of the documentary is the dignity and relentless spirit of the catadores Vik encounters and how this inspires his work and allows for a victorious finale that brings hope and change to the desolate circumstances of life in Jardim Gramacho and to the dreamers, like me, who dream of a better world.

from "Wasteland", view down onto Irma's portrait 2008

from "Pictures of Garbage" 2008

"Saturn Devouring His Son" 2005

Mona Lisa, Peanut Butter and Jelly

from "The Sugar Children Series", 1996

from "Pictures of Clouds"

from "Pictures of People", 2009

"Marylin" 2008

from "Pictures of Earthwork" 2005

Vik Muniz

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