The Camera Obscured
London’s security guards have a reputation for aggressively harassing photographers working near the buildings they ward. When challenged they invoke spurious pretexts like counter-terrorism, and invest photography with almost super-natural powers of observation and revelation. In response to this I travelled to sensitive sites around the city which I then proceeded to draw using a home-made camera obscura. In each case this procedure took up to an hour, was extremely visible and distinctly suspicious looking.
When inevitably challenged to ‘stop photographing’, I attempted to engage these personnel in discussion about the subtle distinctions and blurred boundaries between images made by mechanical means and those drawn by hand, and by doing so demonstrating the absurdity of preventing photography of a site while not objecting to drawing of it. The result is a book of fragmented images, their incompleteness in each case indicating the speed with which I was intercepted and thereby giving some sense of the level of security at each site. Accompanying texts in the book explore questions relating to the evolution of photography from fine art, the history of representation, fears about technology, and the question of where the balance lies between individual rights and collective security.
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