ND MARJA PIRILÄ
MARJA PIRILÄ // Interior/Exterior
The camera obscura phenomenon, at once simple and magical, never ceases to fascinate me. I have worked with it intensely since 1996. For me camera obscura is a method by which to survey the living environment and mental landscapes, summoning subconscious feelings into the light of day.
Besides my oldest and still on going project "Interior/Exterior" (1996–) I have made the projects "Milavida" (2012-2013), "Speaking House" (2004–2006) and "Inner Landscapes" (2009–2011) by using this technique. I have also built many three dimensional camera obscuras with Petri Nuutinen.
The idea in embarking on the Interior/Exterior project was a nocturnal inspiration after seeing some black-and-white images of Abelardo Morell in a photo magazine. In the room converted into a camera obscura I could capture an image of a person and at the same time that person’s room and the view from the window – what an all-encompassing method by which to photograph a person’s living environment!
The originally documentary idea soon expanded in a new direction. The pictures began to form not only a person’s living environment but also to constitute an excursion into the mental landscape: reflections of memories, reveries, fears and dreams.
Working on this series was for me like taking photographs for a family album: visitations to people and also to myself. To take the pictures I transform people’s rooms into camera obscura by covering the windows of the room with blackout plastic and placing on top of the hole cut in it a simple convex lens. Then the view outside the window is reflected upside down into the room forming a dreamy layered space. This and the occupant of the room I then photographed with a conventional camera.
At first I used roll film cameras, nowadays a digital camera. The printing techniques also changed in the course of the project: from the chromogenic color prints of the early years to the present prints on rag and fibre paper with permanent pigments.
Interior/Exterior is the most extensive and long-lasting project accomplished with the camera obscura method. So far I have photographed this series in Finland, Norway, Italy and France, and the work continues.