When we come back from a long trip, we bring with us a strange feeling about the things we’ve seen, and this lasts for a while. The places, now memories, visit our minds in the form of pictures. I wished to narrate this feeling – not a real trip but its memory. This is the story of how I turned a wooden birdhouse into a Pinhole camera.
I chose to employ the quintessential traveller, a bird, to illustrate this idea of travel memories. A migrant whose habit is to always follow the summer, a bird is compelled to face long, hard trips around the world, always flying away from the winter. Every year. Again and again..
The Birdhouse Camera
I used 120mm film, in order to load it while in open space and take more shoots. To forward the film I used two old keys. The film was rolled-up the stem and blocked by the map. The head of the key stuck out the top of the birdhouse, so I could manage them. I equipped the birdhouse with a wooden shutter attached to a little rope that I used as a remote control. A counter-wall fixed the shutter in position and gave a round shape to each photo – I made it like this to suggest the idea that the shot is taken from the inside of the camera.
Then, I took the birdhouse with me in search of places similar to the places a bird could encounter, observe and stop in during its trip. Roofs, lake piers, woods, rivers, foliage and branches, wheat, turned-over soil… Sometimes I climbed on my city’s roofs and on several trees, in order to have a bird’s eye view; other times I just put the birdhouse on the soil, like when the bird lands to eat something or relax for a moment. I exposed the film for only 4 to 20 seconds, so the animals I met didn’t impress the film. Only a gaggle of ducks did me the favor and froze for a while, posing, and I was able to photograph them – I like to think that they understood and appreciated my work.
The stenopeic soft focus image, combined with the unreal distance that the round shape imposes on each photo, sharpen the memory-like feeling I was looking for. The memories of a seasonal migration, a simple and pure adventure that repeats itself from year to year, throughout history. Not a trip report, but the images that a bird, tired, can remember of its long odyssey while dreamingly staring out of its nest.