carolina.gif (1377 bytes)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          NEWS SERVICES
210 Pittsboro Street, Campus Box 6210
Chapel Hill, NC  27599-6210
(919) 962-2091   FAX: (919) 962-2279


For immediate use

May 20, 2002 -- No. 284

Reporters, photographers invited to camera obscura demonstration

Tuesday, May 21, 3-4 p.m.

Outside Hanes Art Center

South Columbia Street

UNC-Chapel Hill

Imagine being in the center of an octagonal room where moving color images of the world outside at that moment are projected, like a movie, on the walls -- passers-by, traffic, trees blowing in the wind.

This is what happens at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's new camera obscura, free and open to the public 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays through May 2, 2003. Visitors need only to pick up a key in the art department office in the Hanes Art Center, off South Columbia Street between Franklin Street and Cameron Avenue.

Tuesday (May 21) from 3-4 p.m., UNC students and faculty members will be available to explain and demonstrate the camera obscura for media representatives.

The structure is a small red wooden one with a tin roof and a silver turbine spinning on top. It stands on the south lawn of Hanes.

The camera obscura, meaning "dark room" in Latin, dates possibly to the 4th or 5th century and was the prototype for the modern camera, invented in the 19th century. Light reflected off objects outside enters pinholes in the structure's walls and inverts, projecting images upside-down on opposite walls. One may expose photographic papers and films to make images.

Today, these room-size cameras obscura are rare. But in the spring semester just concluded, UNC Associate Professor of Art elin o'Hara slavick and students in her conceptual photography class built this one -- learning, in the process, about physics, construction, painting and photography, how to work in a group, how to see a complex project through, and much more.

UNC Professor of Physics Laurie McNeil, who advised the class on physics involved in the project, will join students and slavick at the demonstration Tuesday (May 21). For more on cameras obscura, visit the Arts Carolina Web site at

Parking: Swain visitor lot off Cameron Avenue near South Columbia Street.

- 30 -

News Services contacts: Print, L.J. Toler, 919-962-8589; broadcast, Karen Moon, 919-962-8595