Poetics of Light: Pinhole Photography

Apr 27, 2014 through Jan 10, 2016

In an age when every cell phone can take a respectable picture, cameras as low-tech as an oatmeal box still beguile a legion of practitioners, both artistic and documentarian. With roots in the ancient discovery of the camera obscura, pinhole photography has enchanted artists from the 1880s through today. Opening April 27 through Jan. 10, 2016, Poetics of Light: Pinhole Photography, in the Herzstein Gallery of the New Mexico History Museum, explores a historical art form that exemplifies thoroughly contemporary ideals: Do-it-yourself handmade technology with a dash of steampunk style.

Nearly 225 photographs and 40 cameras show how a light-tight box pierced by a hole and holding a piece of old-school film can reveal alternate versions of reality. At heart, photography is a method of capturing the way that light plays upon objects, the seen and the unseen—a visual form of poetry that extends beyond a literal representation whenever pinhole cameras are involved.

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Wedding Portrait (Birdbrain)

Ben Conrad's pinhole suit and helmet

Poetics of Light: Pinhole Photography exhibition installation


Daffodil #2

The Church at Ranchos de Taos

American Falls


San Francisco de Asis Church, New Mexico


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