<< previous | projects | next >>
PROJECT Caravaggio Camera Obscura, 1986, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA

Project Description

The show was supposed to be called Humor and Art Attack had been invited to participate. The problem was, as Lynn put it: "Art Attack doesn't DO Humor." She and Evan and Alberto seemed to be stuck for an idea. Mark Clark suggested they kick Caravaggio's Basket of Fruit around some more and see what happens. Mark Clark had a bunch of different versions of copies of the painting, two life sized ones, one of which was reversed or mirrored, a postcard sized version, two anamorphic views of the picture that were completely different until you viewed them from their ends and finally a five by eight foot copy. How do you make a joke out of a classical painting of fruit? You buy a basket, fill it with apples grapes and pairs (figs were unavailable), then you construct an eight by eight by eight foot camera obscura with a dark room revolving door, hang the copies on four sides and put the giant version upside down on an easel lit by flood lights in front of the hole in the camera obscura. People would walk around the gallery looking at the different versions of the painting, then step into the giant box and stand there looking at the image of the fruit materializing on the back wall as their eyes adjusted to the dim light that came only through the hole in the front wall. They'd stand there wondering where was the punch line until somebody walked in front of the easel outside and their image would appear on the back wall of the camera obscura upside down. Light travels in a straight line. The resultant laughter would cause whoever had walked in front of the easel to wonder what was the joke, then enter the box, experience the trick of light, and inadvertently lure the next victim in with his own laughter. —Mark Clark

Participating Artists