Poetics of Light: Exhibition Website
Mysterious, artistic, and as low-tech as an oatmeal box, pinhole photography has captivated everyone from schoolchildren to professional photographers for more than a century. The Pinhole Resource Archives, the world’s largest collection of images, books and cameras, just joined New Mexico’s largest archive of photography, the Palace of the Governors Photo Archives at the New Mexico History Museum.
The collection was a donation from Pinhole Resource Inc., which is based in New Mexico and led by Eric Renner and Nancy Spencer.
Even in this digital age, pinhole photography remains an intriguing medium. Its continued popularity has been celebrated every April since 2001 with Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day. The 2010 event drew 3,387 images from 67 countries.
An exhibition of images from this unparalleled collection of pinhole photographs, representing images from New Mexico and around the world, is scheduled for April 2014. Poetics of Light will coincide with Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day.
In the 5th century BC, a Chinese philosopher noted the inverted image produced through a pinhole— an effect that led to development of the camera obscura and serves as the fundamental quality of pinhole photography. Renaissance artists Leonardo da Vinci, Filippo Brunelleschi, and Leon Battista Alberti advanced the knowledge of pinhole camera obscura imagery, creating a basis and understand of one-point perspective. In 1850, Sir David Brewster, a Scottish scientist, took the first photograph with a pinhole camera. By the mid-1980s, a variety of pinhole cameras could be purchased by anyone who wanted to create images without creating the camera.
In its most simple description, a pinhole camera is a lens-less camera with a small aperture. The interior of the “camera” (which can be, yes, an oatmeal box…or a traffic cone…or the human mouth…) contains a piece of film that records the projected image over periods of time that can range from a second to a year.
Pinhole Resource Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to pinhole photography across the globe, was formed in New Mexico in 1984 by Eric Renner. He began working in pinhole photography in 1968, while teaching three-dimensional design for the State University of New York at Alfred. Images from his 6 pinhole panoramic camera were shown in the first exhibition of the Visual Studies Workshop Gallery in Rochester, New York. Consequently, one of Renner’s images was included in the Time-Life Series The Art of Photography, 1971. Through exhibitions and workshops, he met pinhole artists throughout the world and worried that their work might become as lost as the thousands of images taken during the Pictorial Movement from the late 1880s to early 1900s. After forming the nonprofit, he created the Pinhole Journal, and in 1989 was joined by Nancy Spencer, co-director of Pinhole Resource and co-editor of the journal, which ceased publication in 2006. Their collections included images from Europe, the Mideast, Asia and the Americas, books about pinhole photography, and dozens of pinhole cameras, one of which dates back to the 1880s.
Find information about using the Pinhole Resource Collection at the Palace of the Governors Photoarchives.