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Snow Globe / Schneekugel

I am working with the camera obscura as a metaphor for the way in which I internalize the world. The visual phenomenon of the camera obscura, seeing the world miniaturized as if you could hold it in the palm of your hand (like a snow globe), is not only beautiful and seductive but also thought provoking when you consider the locations that I have chosen for my installation, schools.

For me, school has played a large part in shaping who I am, both in forming my personality and shaping my worldview. The structure of schools in Germany is very different than that which I have grown up with in the United States. In the Germany system, young children are divided into different schools based on their abilities. In this way the children do not choose but are given an identity. There is a stratification embodied in the structure of the educational system in a very overt way. I have chosen to install my camera obscura at a Gymnasium, a Gesamtschule, and a Regelschule in order to challenge the students to reflect on this stratification and its internalization.

The structure of my camera obscura is a box 1.4m x 1.4m x 2m in size with a door so the viewer can enter the camera. Unlike a traditional camera obscura, mine has 5 lenses, one on each of the 4 walls and one on the ceiling. These 5 lenses project their images onto a smaller box, approximately 20cm in size, in the center of the camera obscura.

I have chosen to install in interior spaces because I am interested in the inversion of the space, both the physical inversion and the psychological inversion. Physically the interior walls of the public space are projected onto the exterior of a small box inside the camera obscura. Windows that normally look out into the world now look into the box, and the world appears to be inside. Now we have a private view of the public space, an internalization of the world.


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