Chris Fraser - Artist Talk at SFCamerawork, Tuesday, March 3, 2015, 6-8pm.

Can’t wait to hear Fraser talk about his latest site-specific work and others. For me he’s one of the most exciting Bay Area artists at play right now.

Currently at SFCamerwork is Revolving Doors (Feb 5 - Mar 21).

SFCamerwork says:

"Oakland-based artist Chris Fraser has carefully considered the history, geography, and architecture of SF Camerawork’s gallery in the design of a large, camera obscura-like structure comprised of pivoting doors. The installation is interactive, inviting viewers to enter and manipulate a maze-like configuration mimicking the internal mechanisms of a camera. The structure and its design stand as a metaphor for the rapid demographic changes in SF Camerawork’s immediate Mid-Market neighborhood."

Fraser says:

“Visitors will rearrange the space as they move through it, altering the architecture for future patrons. The rich and well connected are moving in; the poor and disenfranchised are being kicked out. A city must change to remain vital. But this transition seems particularly cruel. My hope is to highlight this disparity through an architectural intervention.”

The Blurb:

Fraser is a lecturer in the studio art department at Mills College, where he received his MFA in 2010, Fraser participated in the 2013 Venice Biennale, is currently a Lucas Artist Fellow at the Montalvo Arts Cente, and has received the Eureka/Fleishacker Fellowship, artist residencies at Djerassi, KALA, and Headlands, and The Jay DeFeo Prize.

He works in an individualistic and conceptual mode. His practice has its roots in straight photography but is evolving into increasingly theoretical engagements with photographic concepts. Fraser creates relational environments and sculptures in which viewers’ bodies interact with and transform effects of light, and explore the boundaries of action, movement, and perception. 

The Place:

SF Camerawork
1011 Market Street, 2nd Floor
San Francisco
CA 94103
415 487 1011


Camera Obscura - Abelardo Morell

I made my first picture using camera obscura techniques in my darkened living room in 1991. In setting up a room to make this kind of photograph, I cover all windows with black plastic in order to achieve total darkness. Then, I cut a small hole in the material I use to cover the windows. This opening allows an inverted image of the view outside to flood onto the back walls of the room. Typically then I focused my large-format camera on the incoming image on the wall then make a camera exposure on film. In the beginning, exposures took from five to ten hours,Over time, this project has taken me from my living room to all sorts of interiors around the world. One of the satisfactions I get from making this imagery comes from my seeing the weird and yet natural marriage of the inside and outside.

A few years ago, in order to push the visual potential of this process, I began to use color film and positioned a lens over the hole in the window plastic in order to add to the overall sharpness and brightness of the incoming image. Now, I often use a prism to make the projection come in right side up. I have also been able to shorten my exposures considerably thanks to digital technology, which in turn makes it possible to capture more momentary light. I love the increased sense of reality that the outdoor has in these new works .The marriage of the outside and the inside is now made up of more equal partners.

Camera Building


By simply limiting a light source to the size of a pinhole we can begin to understand how both the camera and the human eye work to record light. Experimentations done using camera obscura led to many great discoveries, not the least of which was the invention of photography. Building a camera obscura is as simple as cutting a hole in a box, and can be modified easily to make a pinhole camera that captures photos. Many photographers still use a pinhole lens to give their photos a dreamy look.  

What else?
Greek mathematicians used camera obscura to determine that light travels in a straight line, helping us to understand the relationship between perspective and angles. More curriculum connectors can be found here.


Photographs from the Tent Camera series by Abelardo Morell

"Since 1991 I have con­verted rooms into Cam­era Obscuras in order to pho­to­graph the strange and delight­ful meet­ing of the out­side world with the room’s inte­rior.

In an effort to find new ways to use this tech­nique, I have worked with my assis­tant, C.J. Heyliger, on design­ing a light proof tent which can project views of the sur­round­ing land­scape, via periscope type optics, onto the sur­face of the ground inside the tent. Inside this space I pho­to­graph the sand­wich of these two out­door real­i­ties meet­ing on the ground. Depend­ing on the qual­ity of the sur­face, these views can take on a vari­ety of painterly effects. The added use of dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy on my cam­era lets me record visual moments in a much shorter time frame– for instance I can now get clouds and peo­ple to show up in some of the photographs.

This way of observ­ing the land­scape with spe­cially equipped tents was prac­ticed by some artists in the 19th cen­tury in order to trace on paper what they saw in the land­scape. Inter­est­ingly, this approach to pic­tur­ing the land was done even before the inven­tion of photography.

My Tent-Camera lib­er­ates me to use the Cam­era Obscura tech­nique in places where it would have pre­vi­ously been impos­si­ble to work, because I now have a portable room, so to speak.”

Posted to Cross Connect by Miyuki