testing ground for art & ecology
Outdoor artwork

Camera Obscura

Rick Abelen

As part of the Shadow Floriade, Zone2Source invited a number of artists and architects to design temporary outdoor artworks for the Amstelpark.

Photography: Thomas Lenden.

Camera Obscura

Artist and architect Rick Abelen, sees the relationship between man and environment from the point of architecture as an interesting field of tension. That is why Abelen developed a Camera Obscura, which visitors can enter to see the Amstelpark from a new perspective. The Camera Obscura is a darkened space where the outside world enters upside down through a hole in the wall. As a precursor to photography – but a technique where there is still a direct connection with the environment – the installation takes the form of a folding camera.

The outdoor work stands near the conifer garden on the north side, next to the footpath, overlooking the pond. The pond plays a role as well: the reflection of the landscape on the water is part of the artwork. Visitors can enter the wooden structure at any time, which means that you find yourself inside a camera where you observe the world upside down. With your back turned to the lens, you see the park on the other side appear in a shadowy way. With dimmed colours the Amstelpark moves in a cinematic manner in front of you. This alienated perception of a familiar environment leads to more attention and reflection on details and shapes that we normally walk through thoughtlessly. When you come out again, the surroundings are just a little different than before you entered the Camera Obscura.

Shadow Floriade

The outdoor works were inspired by pavilions designed for the Floriade horticultural exhibition. The architectural pavilions were shaped by the theme of the expo, the theme of the Shadow Floriade being the rediscovery of human imaginations about nature. At a world exhibition, pavilions are places to experience and discover. These temporary park pavilions function as instruments to better attune ourselves to the natural environment. The outdoor works are not only built for human interest, but also to pavilions for other-than-human organisms.

Camera Obscura – Rick Abelen