Manhattan view Looking West in an Empty Room, Abelardo Morrell

Today’s post is the seventh of my fortnight (oops, missed a few days, let’s go for a number rather than a date) fourteen postcard posts, where I draw a card at random from my big box of them and try to say what I think about it. Here’s the rest of them.
Morell is using a pinhole in a blacked-out room to project what is happening in the wider world on to the walls of a room. This is the most basic of optical technology – the first camera obscura at the Observatory in Greenwich was built in the 17th century – but in Morell’s photos it gives magical results, like a fairytale queen’s mirror.   I can’t look at these pictures without wanting to tape up my windows and give this a go – or at least I couldn’t before I read that each of these photos are exposed for 8 hours to allow for this degree of sharpness.

See how Manhattan has been folded, 14 years before Inception. The ladder suggests we could climb from the sky up – or down? – to the roofs. There’s something to do with recursion here, too: here is the world reflected in a camera, caught in another camera, and I suppose each reproduction of this photograph adds another layer. But before I thought about any of this, I loved the mystery of this picture and its skycraper stalactites.

This postcard came from an exhibition at the Fox Talbot Museum in Lacock, Wiltshire: if you do find yourself in the Cotswolds, it’s worth seeing if they have an something on.


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