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OPEN HOUSE at the Camera Obscura building, Northrop Plaza

December 10, 2013IASEvents0

OPEN HOUSE at the Camera Obscura building, Northrop Plaza

Tuesday, December 10, from 12-1pm

A walk-in camera obscura can now be found on Northrop Plaza. As visitors draw aside a black curtain and enter the small, windowless building, they are delighted to see an inverted image of the outside brought inside.

Krinke_CO_1A camera obscura (“dark chamber” in Latin) is an ancient optical device. In its most basic form it is, quite simply, a dark room with a small hole in one wall. On the wall opposite the hole or lens, an image is formed of whatever is outside. This image is upside-down (inverted) and back to front (laterally transposed). A lens can be used to sharpen the projected image and let more light into the room. The camera obscura was the forerunner of photography and the camera.

Northrop Plaza’s camera obscura (called Black Box) was created through the Pop-Up Northrop initiative. UMN College of Design (CDES) Professor Rebecca Krinke, in collaboration with landscape architecture graduate student Christopher Tallman, and recent CDES alumni/current adjunct faculty, Emily Stover, designed and constructed the “Back Box Camera Obscura” over Fall Semester.

Can’t make it to the Open House?
The Black Box Camera Obscura is Open Weekdays, 9 AM – 4 PM through the winter, into spring.
Contact Rebecca Krinke at or 612-801-6629 for more information or a tour of the project.

Pop-Up Northrop and Rebecca Krinke

Pop-Up Northrop is funded by an EMC Arts Grant won by Northrop. The goal of this grant is to facilitate a “new creative DNA” for Northrop – to revitalize the ways Northrop works and especially how to work in collaboration with the three new residents in Northrop: the College of Design’s Travelers Innovation Lab, The Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) and the University’s Honors Program.  Pop-Up Northrop has been bringing a series of temporary events, objects, and performances inspired by the revitalized building and its four resident units. Northrop reopens to the public April 2014.

The Black Box Camera Obscura provides an unusual place of wonder and a catalyst for conversation – even though it has opened in the winter. Krinke has been pleased to see its effect on visitors – as they express their surprise as they see Northrop Mall in a new way and marvel at its beauty.

Krinke reports that the camera obscura is also showing its power to ignite learning/action. Two of the first visitors to the camera obscura were Honors students: Sam Vantassel, sophomore in art and architecture, who has decided to do his Undergraduate Research Project with Rebecca on the camera obscura; and Joey Cronick, senior in media studies, will be on hand Tuesday, filming at the Open House.

The plan is that the Black Box Camera Obscura will be open through the winter into the spring at Northrop Plaza – and then may move to another location. Krinke has plans that the Black Box Camera Obscura will also be a performative space – she will be inviting other artists to propose sound installations, “Theater for One”, art-science discussions to name a few – especially as the temperatures go up!

Rebecca Krinke is a multidisciplinary artist/designer working in public art, sculpture, installations, and site art. Recent projects include: What Needs to be Said? (2012) built on her work Unseen/Seen: The Mapping of Joy and Pain (2010) which created a shared temporary social space for emotional engagement as citizens mapped where they have experienced joy and pain on a large sculptural map of Minneapolis-St Paul. In September 2013, Prof. Krinke organized Unspoken to kick off the IAS fall Thursdays at Four series.


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