We interviewed artist Anthony Carr, asking questions about his work with pinhole photography…
Why/when did you begin to get involved in pinhole photography?
I first started to use pinhole photography as an easy way to teach children how light and black and white photography worked, in around 2005. And that lead to me experimenting with pinhole photography in my own work around the same time. At that point in my practice I was working with long exposure and nocturnal photography and I soon realised that pinhole photography was the missing link.
What kind of pinhole camera do you use?
I generally use homemade pinhole cameras to capture images. In the beginning I tried various designs from pringles tins to cake tins, but I’ve settled on the humble 35 mil film canister as it’s discreet and both waterproof and light-tight already. Which of course are the key things to maintain when leaving the cameras outside for long periods of time. Recently I’ve been combining the film canister cameras with homemade time-lapse mechanisms to capture and overlay slices of time, rather than long continuous periods of time.
Do you practice any other alternative photography processes?
I’m not sure if you include this as an alternative photography process, but I’m fascinated by camera obscuras, which I think helped fuel my initial interest in pinhole photography. I’ve coverted a few rooms into camera obscuras in the past and once built a wooden shed-sized octagonal camera obscura for a scultpure exhibition.
Could you say more about the significance of surveillance in your work?
Surveillance and the crime-scene aesthetic have been two of a handful of themes running through my work since before I graduated 15 years ago. I’ve always been interested in the elevated viewpoint of CCTV cameras and the kind of quality of images they produce. They have this unique semi-aerial perspective on the world. My first large-scale pinhole project was directly inspired by Britain’s surveillance culture, and the inobtrusive nature of the film canister cameras has made it possible for me to install them in a number of locations, including a former Queen’s Lodge, an Elizabethan mansion and on numerous tree trunks in parks.
I also generally disguise my more recent homemade time-lapse pinhole mechanisms inside nestboxes to allow me to install them up high on trees in psuedo CCTV camera locations.
Is the material nature of the analogue process something that is significant within your work?
I would say that the analogue process is integral to my practice. The properties of film and how it behaves over a long period of time give my photographs thier unusual appearance, in particular the unconventional colours. And I deliberately include the clip marks and registration notches of the 5×4 format whenever possible in the final print as a way of both celebrating the medium and hinting at their low-fi production.