This exhibition of pinhole cameras and photographs were created by students in Judith Birdsong’s Fall 2015 Design V Studio.
Deus ex Machina
Making a pinhole camera requires only a rudimentary knowledge of optics and is, in fact, so simple that it is often assigned as an elementary school art project. "But simplicity, once grasped, almost begs us to question its apparent effortlessness; “That’s it!” yields quickly to “What if…?” Boundaries, after all, tempt transgression even as they mark limits. As a design problem, the pinhole is an exercise in probing constraints. It is both lenient, allowing for rich modification, and absolute: it must work. Function trumps all.
Whether or not the camera operates as intended is a source of anxious concern until the first image magically emerges in the developer bath. Concern often yields to surprised delight when the image reveals itself to be something completely unanticipated. The fluid equation of light, film, instrument, and operator never yields a fixed solution and stubbornly resists all attempts to preconceive with any certainty the final product. Trial and error may, over time, render one or more factors obedient, but serendipity will inevitably prevail. The exhibited work embraces the unruly and celebrates the unexpected, and that sustained sense of wonder and surprise underscores every image.