MARK KIMBER: The Cloud Chamber



20 Apr – 18 May 2011


MARK KIMBER | The Cloud Chamber
Artist Statement, 2011

Where there is beauty; truth, where semblance; love,

Shakespeare Cymbeline > Act II, scene IV

I suppose I was three or four when my brother took great delight in pointing out the monster that lived in the wall of my grandparent’s bathroom. From a spot just below the bathroom ceiling I could see two greenish eyes staring back at me– the colour of the eyes shifting throughout the day towards yellow and then with sunset disappearing. They were of course just a broken air vent with most of the holes blocked except for two, but to me they were a glimpse of something at first frightening and then engrossing, somewhat just outside of the common place. But there was something else the eyes did at the right time of the day, in the right kind of weather; the eyes projected a movie onto the opposite wall. Not much of a movie of course, just the branches and leaves of the neighbours tree shot through with the circle of the sun and at times and most enchanting of all; the faint but captivating outline of passing clouds. The eyes in the wall had created a room sized Camera Obscura and in me a life long fascination with photography and theatre.

I could have of course gone outside and looked at the real tree, the sun and those beautiful clouds but the projection, the simulation; the abstraction of that real event was to me so much more compelling. It’s how things look, how they are represented through the camera that intrigued me then and now. That room was a theatre, a place of mystery, a cloud chamber.

To paraphrase Shakespeare truth and photography keep little company these days. I found it quite mesmerizing the way a small hole in the wall could create an image of the outside world, stripped of its finer details, and reduced to its elemental form and that has stayed with me. I am not interested in the pixel perfect replication of “reality” that is possible with CGI photography rather my enthralment lies in the theatrical abstraction that comes about when photography enchantingly distorts it.

The cut out clouds in a theatre set don’t say this is exactly what a cloud looks like, it suggests that this is a representation of a cloud,  - how we might remember clouds to be, or even how a cloud “feels”.

"The palest ink is better than the best memory." - Chinese proverb

The photographs for this exhibition were taken with a plastic pinhole camera, no lens, just a tiny hole in a piece of metal that projects an image on to film, a camera obscura, thousands of years older than photography itself, the first known written account being by Mo-Ti  470 BCE to 390 BCE, a Chinese philosopher. My pinhole camera uses the same principal as the "darkened chamber/room" in my grandmother’s house. In this instance I am the one travelling without moving, by photographing tiny models of structures in my garage.

The eyes have gone from my grandparent’s house; blinded by renovation but the world they created for me still lives on.

- Mark Kimber 2011