Project created by photographer Bruno Alencastro during the quarantine uses the principle of the obscure camera to think about the new world that has suddenly arrived
Text: Everyday Brasil
With the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, photographers, and visual directors from all over the world were led to rethink the ways and practices of their work and exercise creativity within a situation never seen by everyone. The form, as well as the content, were suddenly unknown and it was necessary to discover possible ways to document this new reality.
Among the works that have been elaborated in Brazil in this context, Obs-cu-ra is, in our opinion, one of the most brilliant and delicate. The atmosphere that the idea results in is full of life and hope, pulsing at the same time that it suggests a pause. It transmits a feeling common to all, and at the same time particular, that the moment provokes. Amidst the many reflections that these images bring us, it promptly makes us think that the world that awaits us on our return is no longer the one we knew, will never be, is inverted, changed, and there are no known comebacks, we will have to discover it and, preferably, be kinder to it.
Bruno Alencastro, creator of the project, says that Obs-cu-re was born because of his particular restlessness and the idleness provided by the quarantine. "Without being able to leave home, I knew that my challenge was to document the pandemic from inside my apartment. It was then that the principle of the obscure camera occurred to me. From a technical point of view, this could be possible, but mainly from the aesthetic and speech perspective, it could have a lot to tell about this time we are living", tells Bruno.
The oldest reference to the principle of the camera obscura is attributed to the Chinese philosopher Mozi, in the 5th century BC. But it is in the Renaissance that it is used as an optical device: in a completely dark box or room, with a small entrance of light, there is a projection in the opposite part of the aperture, with the image inverted from the internal scene.
The photographer, when making the first test, was excited with the result, but soon understood that he could not do it alone, so he invited, at first, 12 other photographers who agreed to transform their homes into large format obscure cameras and thus take the project forward with a diverse group of people and situations within the context of the pandemic.
From the beginning Bruno thought that the project had a powerful discourse and that it could have a global reach, since the whole world was facing the same situation. Thinking about that, he was careful to launch the bilingual essay, with the intention to dialogue with other countries. The essay started to be posted in different parts of the world and several people started to get in touch with the photographer wanting to know more details about how to build an obscure camera and how to be part of the project.
"On the same day I was talking to a photographer from Uruguay and another from South Africa. That's when I realized that the essay could gain even more power through a collective call, so that more people would be part of it. So I launched a kind of "video-tutorial" giving some tips on how to get a better result for the construction of the obscure camera and calling people to send me the result of this experience".
The outcome so far is the participation of 78 photographers from 20 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Greenland, India, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Russia, Uruguay, Spain, United Kingdom and United States.
The work has been published in more than 40 sites in 10 countries, as well as in magazines in the USA and France. Recently, it was selected for the #quarentenaprojetada, promoted by Mídia Ninja in partnership with Instituto Moreira Salles, as well as exhibitions planned to take place in the second semester in Greece and New York.
To learn more about the Obs-cu-ra project: