Two thousand and fourteen, the start of another year. As we finish off the last few mince pies and pack away the Christmas tree (which was officially voted the prettiest and most uniquely decorated in Edinburgh!), Camera Obscura reflects on all that’s changed since the start of 2013…
We’ve had new exhibits, additions to old favourites, new staff joining our team and old friends moving on, we’ve extended our opening hours longer than ever before and built relationships with local schools, attractions and restaurants. It’s been a fantastic 2013 for us, what about you?
Hidden in the Middle
In collaboration with James Hutchby we launched Hidden in the Middle, a new exhibit for the Bewilderworld gallery. Hidden in the Middle exploits the tiny lag in visual processing to create images of ducks, frogs, cars or flowers from just a single line of lights.
One of our favourite exhibits had its ceiling finished this year. This really adds to the effect and some staff who have been happily wandering through every day for months actually got stuck inside! How will you go on your next visit?
Giant Pinhole Camera
We love our giant pinhole camera, not only do you get to turn your family or friends upside-down, you get a real feel for the way the first cameras (and camera obscuras) worked. The giant pinhole camera has been a staple of the exhibition floor at Camera Obscura since we launched World of Illusions but this year we began experimenting with a new design. We have added a pinhole in the wall of the camera that allows you to peek into the next room of exhibits. Using state-of-the-art camera lenses has really sharpened the focus and we hope to continue with this improvement throughout 2014.
Speaking of peeking; we have had two spy cameras on our rooftop for years, and one of them finally kicked-the-bucket in 2013. This actually turned out to be a good thing that has allowed us to invest in a brand new, higher resolution, more dynamic camera that gives more control over your city views. You have to be careful in Camera Obscura though, as while you are looking at the city someone in the Giant Pinhole Camera might be looking at you!
Placement Science Communicators
We continued to collaborate with Edinburgh University and took on two placement students in 2013. You can see their additions in the Edinburgh Vision Gallery. Brilliant, new photos have enhanced the way other visitors see the exhibits. People are playing longer, experimenting with the fibre optics and microscopes more than before – and we get the occasional scream when they realise the highly magnified photo is a spider! Thanks to our students; you really added to the experience.
Puppets and Education
After strolling through the largest hologram collection in Europe you come to a white wall, but is it really white? Our coloured shadows wall has had a make-over this year. No longer a white wall, it is now a stage for puppet shows with foam characters strung from the ceiling and on sticks for visitors to use. The white wall becomes a rainbow of colours as the light is blocked and each puppet throws off, not one, but three different coloured shadows. This has received praise from teachers and parents as it explains what light is made of in a simple and fun way – and it is set to feature in our new education pack in 2014!
This is possibly my favourite addition to the walls of Camera Obscura this year. The poster looks like a scene from a novel, Alice in Wonderland or Great Expectations. Take a closer look. It is the novel! The entire book is represented as carefully coloured and positioned text that forms the scene when viewed from further back. Book club at Camera Obscura next week?
We know that two hours is quite a long time to spend on your feet, with amazing things jumping out at you and testing your eyes and brain, so we added some super-comfy chairs to the Light Fantastic Gallery. Nothing odd about them… except the noises you make when you sit on them! Phe-ew!
Not actual spaghetti so please don’t lick it, the lightning tube has been twisting light into spaghetti shapes for a long time – but never before in colour! The new lightning tube is brighter and more colourful than the last. But we have even more shocking plans for the electric room in 2014, watch this space…
And they’re just my favourite ones! Come and see for yourself the new Ames Room camera, the new images in our Kaleodispheres, the rooftop terrace lights, the amazing ways you can use a torch or a packet of ketchup, the iPad programs, the magic tricks and the hole through your hand that is entirely pain free! And don’t forget the new shows at event time, the brand new products in the shop, the musical stairs and magic eye pictures, the food faces and light painting…I think we are just warming up! What else would you like to see on your next visit?
Written by Alyce Paton