Mobile Camera Obscura + Mitch Kern Amazed Eyes at Beakerhead 2016

Mitch Kern with the help of some ACAD faculty and alums—and with support of Beakerhead and the Calgary Foundation—converted a vintage fiberglass camping trailer into a mobile camera obscura. The camera obscura operates upon the same principle as the human eye and helps viewers understand the science of perception and perceptual adaptation. 

"It's exactly how the human eye works. It's exactly how a camera works," says Kern. "This is part of what the camera obscura reveals. It is on the one hand incredibly simple, but on the other hand, incredibly complex. When the conditions are right it is a sublime experience that changes the way people see and understand light and how it operates."

"I've been using camera obscuras in my teaching for nearly two decades and have had the great privilege of seeing my students awed by the experience. But the camera obscuras I've used in my teaching at ACAD are rooms in the college, meaning they always see the same view. This is what got me thinking, what if I could take this show on the road? It would allow for a constant influx of new images as well as the ability to deliver the experience to new audiences."

"The great thing about the camera obscura is that it not only reveals a lot about light and photography, some things I obviously teach about. But it also reveals a lot about vision, perception and art, things I also teach about. When people walk away from it with a deeper appreciation of these things, the mission of the project has been fulfilled."