Liz Sales and Visual Arts Students exhibit Camera Obscura work

In Light and Darkness gallery / Chloe Charbonneau


The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts has just changed over their gallery to exhibit In Light and Darkness: A Camera Obscura Project with Artist Liz Sales and Brock Visual Arts Students. The gallery will be exhibited in MIWSFPA from November 22 to December 9; the work is in response to workshops with Sales herself. Brock’s Visual Arts students are exhibiting their work alongside some of Sales’ own photography from her Camera Obscura series, entitled “The Weather Inside”.

A “Camera Obscura” is defined as a “darkened box with a convex lens or aperture for projecting the image of an external object onto a screen inside.” Sales has taken this idea and created “The Weather Inside”, a series of photographs depicting a Camera Obscura set up in one of the rooms in her house. Currently teaching at the International Centre of Photography, Sales has been heavily involved in exploring photography through Camera Obscura as well as through art installation projects. Sales has said that her work often focuses on the relationship between perception and technology.

For the gallery at MIWSFPA, the Visual Arts students built a 10×10 ft. tent with blackout material as an exterior darkroom; the tent is located directly in front of the school. Sales is known for working with photography within the frame of our relationship with technology and the ways that we literally see and interact with it. As an example of her will to explore the boundaries of the complex relationship, she is known as, currently, the only human being to be catalogued as a bibliographic item with the International Centre of Photography’s library. To explain fully, a bibliographic item is ruled as any information entity, that being book, computer file, cartographic material, etc., that is “considered library material as far as it is relevant to the catalog and to the patrons of the library in question.” Sales is the only person recognized by the Library of Congress as a library holding and has even been assigned an ISBN# – she is a permanent part of the collection.

Sales is a self-desrcibed “artist, bogger, podcaster and educator” and has a BA from Evergreen State College and an MFA from ICP-Bard College’s Program in Advanced Photographic Studies with an ICP Director’s Fellowship. Sales has worked as a motion picture camera technician and contributes to Conveyer Magazine.

In an artist statement for her work, The Eye’s Mind — Photo Walls in Picture Collection Exhibition Series, Sales has said that she desires to challenge her own, largely unconscious, practice of looking and, as well as those who view her work.

“Sales’ practice of reinventing the camera and, as a result, adhering to alternate criteria, forces her to pre-visualize her photographs within new confines,” writes the Mid-Manhattan Library. “Consequently, Sales creates work through a labor-intensive process akin to nineteenth-century photographic traditions, reminding the viewer that photography, which has become a natural part of life, was once an experimental field with no set standards.”

Sales has also published a book, titled This folder may contain clippings and other ephemeral material…, which interrogates the idea that one reality is mutually exclusive from another.

“History is capable of meandering no matter how purposeful our attempts are to contain it,” said Sales of her ideas surrounding and involved in the writing of the work.

For “The Weather Inside”, Sales has a tumblr solely dedicated to cataloguing the bedroom she has set up with a Camera Obscura. In it, she has documented the pictures for every ten minutes from each day; the very first post is dated September 5, 2015 at exactly 9:55 p.m. and the most recent is dated October 8 2016 at 6:50 p.m. The documentation lasts for approximately 700 pages of postings.

“I’ve turned a my bedroom into a camera obscura — a naturally occurring phenomenon in which a small hole in one side of a darkened room projects an inverted image of the outside world on its surfaces,” Sales said while taking the first steps in her project “The Weather Inside”. “Over the next year, I hope to more fully engaging with the optical, temporal and social aspects of the apparatus.”


You can find the work of Brock’s Visual Arts students and artist Liz Sales at Marilyn I. Walker’s School of Fine and Performing Arts’ gallery from November 22 – December 9; the gallery is open to all at no charge, Tuesday – Saturday from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

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