Camera Obscura



Shoreditch is on the brink of a significant transformation with a number of large- scale developments in the planning, especially in the area around Shoreditch station. Right on our doorstep, construction of a 50-storey tower – Principal Place – has just commenced, setting off a process that the Londonist has called “the ‘Canary Wharf- isation’ of Shoreditch.” This will fundamentally not only change the physical, urban fabric, but undoubtedly also alter the social and creative capital of this particular part of London. Our Shoreditch Camera Obscura, built for the 2014 London Festival of Architecture, captured the City of London, a ‘cliff’ of steel and glass which has been creeping towards Shoreditch and is in the process of engulfing our area.

As the viewer’s eye adjusts to the darkness of the room, a soft, upside down image slowly emerges. The idea for the camera obscura was in part inspired by the work of the artist Rodney Graham whose large-scale tree photographs displayed upside down play with the notion of human observation and perception. Inverting the image turns the subject into a “kind of symbolic image” and also corresponds to the natural reaction of the human eye. The world is initially registered on the retina upside down, to be reversed by the brain. It is left to the visitor to reflect on the image and form their own interpretation and view.

During the LFA in June 2014 and, later that year, the London Open House, well over 500 people visited our installation, which, until dismantled at the end of 2014, was one of only two camera obscuras in London.

Camera Obscura was conceived, planned, designed, procured and built solely by the Finkernagel Ross team, which pushed us in our ability to work hands-on with structures and materials.