Magic in the Dark

Magic in the Dark

Lewis Bush, from the series The Camera Obscured.

Throughout its history, photography has been viewed as something imbued with magical qualities, able to detect the supernatural, or capturing a part of the identity of those it depicts. Even in more enlightened times, these beliefs linger, and security personnel and police officers often ascribe to photography an ability to capture and record dangerous levels of detail. In response to a series of encounters with such personnel, I began to travel to locations around the city of London equipped with a camera obscura, which I would then use to draw highly sensitive locations in meticulous detail, inviting a response. The aim was to draw these same security personnel and police officers into a discussion about their fears about photography, and to illustrate that the abilities we often associate with photography are not at all unique to it.

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The police were more interested in my professional-looking camera and tripod than anything I might actually be photographing, and ascribed to this equipment some magic power that the tourists with their compact point and shoots did not have.
Reading time: 9 min.

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