Framing Experience: Camera Obscura, and the Confessional

Framing Experience: Camera Obscura, and the Confessional

One of the driving forces behind the shaping of this study was a concern over the critical role of architectural history. This concern grew out of a constant and necessary confrontation with the question of “How does one engage with architecture and space, historically and critically?” Among many other past and present responses to this question, what is taken seriously here is a suggestion by Foucault: “Focus on what the Greeks called the techne” (1984, p. 255).

The Optical Camera Obscura: An Old Device Newly Born

The Optical Camera Obscura: An Old Device Newly Born

The optical camera obscura played an important role in the evolution of photography as an art, in fact, in Tracy Rose Chevalier’s 1999 novel ‘The Girl’ with the ‘Pearl Earring’ and the 2003 movie of the same title, a camera obscura takes centre stage in a drama between the famous Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer van Delft (1632-1675) and a servant girl called Griet. Johannes Vermeer van Delft is not only one of the brightest stars among the famous Dutch and Flemish painters of the seventeenth-century. He is also the artist most often assumed to have used a camera obscura to create some and maybe most of his paintings. Such speculations appeared as early as 1891 in a journal of photography. This seems fitting for an artist whose paintings, like those of other Dutch artists of this time, boasted a photographic realism. The incredible precision with which Johannes Vermeer van Delft rendered details, particularly in his domestic interiors, his novel approach to atmospheric light and colours and the lustre he applied to reflecting surfaces are all suggestive of a painting practice that employed a camera obscura.

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