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Artist
Rodney Graham
Title
Tree on the Former Site of Camera Obscura
Date
1996
Medium
color photograph
Dimensions
Image: 16 × 14 inches (40.6 × 35.6 cm)Sheet: 20 × 16 inches (50.8 × 40.6 cm)Matted: 24 × 20 inches (61 × 50.8 cm)Framed: 24 × 20 inches (61 × 50.8 cm)
Tags
Photography
Credit Line
Gift of Zoë and Joel Dictrow.
Accession Number
2013.4.5
This upside-down photograph references a project by Rodney Graham from 1979. He built a camera obscura to the scale of a toolshed and placed it facing a singular tree in a field near his family’s farm in Abbotsford, British Columbia. The inverted image of the tree was projected on the wall across from the pinhole, and the viewer could only experience the image in real time by standing in the shed.

By producing a new photograph of the same tree, Graham removes it from its original time-based context and questions the validity of experience and the nature of photography as a form of mechanical reproduction by reproducing it for a museum wall. Graham is also giving credence to the inverted view. He believes that inversion has a logic: “You don’t have to delve very deeply into modern physics to realize that the scientific view holds that the world is really not as it appears. Before the brain rights it, the eye sees a tree upside down in the same way it appears on the glass back of the large format field camera I use.” Rodney Graham is a multimedia, conceptual artist who lives and works in Vancouver.