The ‘camera obscura’ has been widely used by artists over the centuries and served in many ways to frame the shots that are so familiar as soft-edged images of a captured world. The recorded photographic image that developed subsequently made similar use of a black box and the so called pin-hole camera has an impressive history and a wide ranging contemporary application. In this short paper I am returning to a particular archive collection of art and design teachers experiments with this technology in the 1970’s and 1980’s and contrasting these images with an example of the innovative practice developed by a friend and colleague as part of her doctorate thesis on ‘lens less’ technology. Targa Trygg’s work is well documented on her website and the numerous exhibitions devoted to ‘Solargraphy’ (www.solargraphy.com ) and I was personally fortunate to be given the opportunity to contribute to this project by locating these specially prepared canisters in the West Midlands, Scotland and France at the start of her research in 2002. Pete Worrall, as the digital specialist in the university team, incorporated aspects of this technology in his postgraduate workshops and within his personal research there is considerable exemplification of experimental digital manipulation.
For me the intriguing element of Tarja’s practice was the period of detachment, as the ‘cameras’ were fixed and left for some weeks to record light images. Once retrieved, the canisters were returned to Targa and the resultant images were processed and dispatched as digital files. The common dimension linking her work with the consistent excitement of the pin-hole experience is its unpredictability.