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05. Resuscitating an Instrument of Vision and Pleasure

2005, Chicago Prize Water Tanks Competition (In collaboration with Milenko Ivanovic)

Chicago’s period of remarkable growth in the late 19th and early 20th centuries coincided with the invention and acceleration of vision-based technologies. Photography, among other media, played a pivotal role in documenting and subsequently disseminating images from the city’s destruction in the Great Fire of 1871 as well as its rapid reconstruction. As the Columbian Exposition of 1893 catapulted Chicago into the public eye, its physical presence as a World’s Fair location only further intensified through the increasingly prolific use of photographic documentation. This project seeks to reinvigorate the excitement and curiosity generated by discoveries in visualization processes, not through a bombardment of new media, but rather through a resuscitation of Camera Obscura’s antiquated technology. Within each water tank, images of real-time rooftop views of Chicago are produced by the simple mechanisms of Camera Obscura. Simultaneously, the interior of each water tank is lined with LED lighting technology, a medium which publicly displays historical images that are currently only accessible in archives. The LED screens are activated by the proximity of a revolving perforated screen, thus choreographing the projection of realtime images with the illumination of images from Chicago’s past, to produce a calculated – yet blurred-intersection between past and present.