CAMERA OBSCURA WHANGAREI UPDATE
Whangarei’s Camera Obscura is progressing; D-Photo spoke with project leader and photographer Diane Stoppard about how it’s coming along, and how D-Photo readers can help
D-Photo: For those who aren’t aware of it, can you explain the Camera Obscura Whangarei project in a little detail?
Diane Stoppard: The Camera Obscura Sculpture in Whangarei is an eight-metre steel sculpture within which is a camera obscura. Echoing Richard Serra’s steel work, this sculpture reflects the maritime history of the Hatea River and celebrates the unique Te Matau a Pohe bascule bridge in Whangarei. The project team is led by [myself, and] includes architect Felicity Christian and sculptor Trish Clarke. [We combine our] respective skills to create a visually strong and architecturally unique interactive art experience for New Zealand. Using the newest CCTV technology, the images created by the obscura are projected onto the screen on the exterior of the sculpture, whilst projecting images to the world via the web.
It looks as if things are tracking along very nicely for the Camera Obscura Whangarei! How did the PledgeMe campaign go, and what will that money go towards?
A very successful PledgeMe campaign generated $30,000, and through the generosity of the local, national, and international community, the funds have reached $42,812 — just shy of the $50,000 community contribution aimed for. The project has attracted international interest, with significant obscura artists following and supporting the project.
Can you outline how the camera obscura will work, and what it will show?
The public will journey into the sculpture to arrive in a white room (with soft corners and organic seating), onto which the view of the bascule bridge, sky, road, river and walkers, is projected all over the floor, wall, and ceiling. Using the science of light, when creating a hole (or square) in the wall of a lightproof space, the view outside is projected upside down and back to front within that space. The same way the human eye or camera lens works.
What else is on the to-do list? Do you have any more campaigns coming up? Is there any way for the public to help?
The project is currently being costed by the generous business community of Whangarei. As the steel work is complex, the project is very lucky to be supported by Culham Engineering, which has donated the steel ($46,000), and has the technology to roll the metal into the organic form of sculpture. We are still seeking the final community contribution. Supporters of this project can make donations and be recognized for future generations. A $200-plus donation [will see] your name etched in the base of sculpture, and $1000-plus puts your name on the large steel door. To support the project go to cameraobscura.nz, or post cheques to ‘Camera Obscura’ PO Box 3223, Onerahi, Whangarei 0142, with your details. This is an opportunity to be involved in an exciting, innovative photographic project for New Zealand.
When is the projected date to get the Camera Obscura installed and functioning?
We plan to meet the November funding
round for large projects and, when successful, construction will start in March 2018, with an opening projected for October 2018.
Do you have anyone you’d like to thank, in terms of getting this project to fruition?
The local support from the Whangarei people and business community has been huge. This community-led project has been significantly supported, and we have recognized that support on the website. You can also follow our progress on our YouTube channel, Camera Obscura NZ. This sculpture will join a handful of international sculptural camera obscura, and be one of the largest in the world. We have yet to find one using the CCTV technology — by adding this dimension, we create an art experience where the viewer becomes a performer in the space, while making a social comment on the use of CCTV in our society. I urge New Zealand’s photographic community to get behind this very visual project.