The Traveling Obscura began as an installation in a storefront in Ybor City. We designed it as a simple machine that would bring a new awareness to the unique character and dynamism of one of Tampa’s most historic neighborhoods. Using the principles of a pinhole camera, Traveling Obscura projects images of its surroundings onto its internal surfaces through a series of apertures and lenses. The machine – human in scale and proportion, but architectural in form and details — creates an uncanny, intimate experience as passersby engage with it.
Lenses pierce the Traveling Obscura’s hard plywood shell to provide glimpses of the environment, projected onto delicate mylar screens on its interior. The calibration of the machine’s lenses and apertures produces images that are fragmented, blurry, upside-down, distorted, softened, changed. The images evolve throughout the day as light and atmospheric conditions shift and people, objects and vehicles move through the environment.
Out of this purposeful blurriness, the interplay between light, shadow, air and movement, that is so inherent to architecture — but also so often overlooked — becomes apparent. Since its first installation, Traveling Obscura has been placed throughout the Tampa Bay area, encouraging fresh ways to engage with architecture and place.