Peri’s Camera Obscura: A Different Perspective

Words by Lauren Cook

Keep up-to-date with Photographic Centre Peri’s Camer Obscura programme at:
Camera Obscura webpage
Camera Obscura Facebook event page

To learn more about Peri’s other exhibitions and projects, visit:

Camera Obscura. Dark room. The concept is simple, but how often do we actually consider the basic principle by which every camera, not to mention our own eyesight, works? Now Photographic Centre Peri’s project allows audiences a chance to explore simple image creation, using little more than a shipping container, some fabric and a custom lens.

In a camera obscura, light travels through a small hole, projecting an upside down image on to the opposite wall. Visitors to Peri’s project can expect to experience a new perspective of their environment, as the camera takes in the sunlight and movement of its surroundings. Peri hopes that audiences will find their visit to be educational and fun, and are offering tours and children’s workshops as part of the project’s programme.

The Peri Camera Obscura project first took place in August 2014, with a ten day appearance outside Turku Cathedral. While it was a success, it had been hastily prepared and had only a small budget. Three years later, with the help of some financial grants, the project has returned- this time bigger and better.

The Camera Obscura at Ruisrock 2017. Photo by Joonas Mäkivirta.

Since opening on the 8th June at the Turku Cathedral Square, where it had over 500 visitors in three days, the Camera Obscura has taken up temporary residence at no fewer than 5 different locations this summer. Its tour has taken it to audiences in Southern Ostrobothnia, Ruisrock and Nauvo’s marina. Because it is not cheap to move the shipping container (a third of the project’s budget went to transportation), Photographic Centre Peri chose locations that were close by and / or that they could collaborate with. In Ostrobothnia, they worked with Jenni Latva (the region’s official photography artist) and the Arts Promotion Centre Finland, and were able to run the project at Seinäjoki’s Farmari Agricultural Exhibition and in the town of Lapua.

Now it will return to its original home outside Turku Cathedral on the 17th August. This is also Turku’s official Night of the Arts, and will be just one of many events being held throughout the city. Guided tours will be offered from 13-17,and from 17-18 audiences can enjoy acrobatic performances from both inside and outside the Camera Obscura (17th and 18th August). On the 21st and 22nd August from 08-15 Heidi Lunabba will be leading workshops for children, and again on the 28th and 29th August.

Photo provided by Photographic Centre Peri.

This year’s Camera Obscura celebrates two historic milestones: Suomi100 (it is an official part of the campaign) and the 175th anniversary of Finnish photography. On 3rd November 1822, Dr Henrik Cajander took the oldest surviving, and suspected to be the first ever taken, photograph in Finland. Interestingly, the view in Cajander’s photograph is of Turku’s own Uudenmaankatu. It’s no coincidence that Peri have made the Turku Cathedral Square, with its close proximity to the location of Cajander’s notable work, the unofficial home of their Camera Obscura.

Photographic Centre Peri hopes that the project can continue next year, and that the possibility to use Bonfoton’s (the brainchild of local photographer Tommi Pirnes, who also supplied this year’s lens) portable camera obscura lens will allow it to travel more widely and reach more audiences. The world around us alters constantly, not only through changes in architecture and landscape, but also with every gust of wind and every new ray of sunlight. Perhaps one day Turku will have a permanent Camera Obscura, a dark room where residents and visitors can observe the long-term changes to this amazing city?

The Camera Obscura at Seinäjoki’s Farmari Agricultural Exhibition. Photo provided by Photographic Centre Peri.
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