Abelardo Morell's photographs remind us that photography is more about how we see than the tools we use to create it. As we become ensconced with computer technology, more and more artists are returning to the past, working with processes and instruments more than one hundred years old. Morell is one of those artists who burst onto the scene with a series of images made with a camera obscura -- a lensless camera most often associated with Renaissance artists.
Morell takes an ordinary room - his living room, his son's bedroom, a hotel room -- and transforms it into a camera by placing black plastic over all of the windows, leaving a 3/8" hole through which the light passes. He then sets up his view camera in the room, points it at the opposite wall, opens the lens and lets the image appear on the film over the next eight hours. The result of his endeavor is a magical world which fuses outdoor elements with domestic scenes, allowing the viewer to see the existing reality outside the window. Morell has transformed many rooms into cameras, recording the Empire State Building inside a bedroom, Times Square onto the sterile walls of a Marriott hotel room, and a view of Brookline onto the walls and ceiling of his son's bedroom, as trees and buildings interact with toy dinosaurs. These are extraordinary images alter our perception of reality and our placement in it.
Along with the camera obscura, Morell has a large body of work on household objects, photographing them as if seen through the eyes of his son, Brady. A pair of the artists eyeglasses, a water faucet, a paper bag and a wine glass are all seen close-up, printed large. The resulting photographs convey the shocking wide-eyed experience children feel with the adult world.
Morell also photographs pages of antique books, transforming small details into dynamic structures. Working with extreme close-ups and angles, Morell chooses unexpected fragments, casting new importance on the nuances within an illustration. Whether photographing a book, an object or the outside world projected on his son's wall, all of Morell's images challenge our perception of reality and how we see.
In his newest body of work, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Morell recreates the story of Alice by combining photographs of the original drawings by Tenniel with Lewis Carroll's writing. The resulting images transport the viewer into the book, inventing a new landscape for the story.
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