Thursday, 23 October 2014

A Morell Moment

Our house is orientated roughly north-south, with the front of the house facing east.  At this time of year, as the days shorten dramatically and the weather takes an autumnal turn, opening the front door to fetch in the milk first thing in the morning can present a very different spectacle, day by day, especially now that my rising hours are varying so much.  If I'm up at 6:00, there are stars in the sky; if I'm up at 9:00, the day is already in full swing.  Will there be frost, will there be fog, will there be rain?  Will the rising sun announce itself with a dazzling blaze of orange light, or be obscured by clouds?

This morning, around 8:55, I was sitting in the kitchen, listening to Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time (he's started to sound both bored and tired, don't you think?) when my eye was caught by a vision.  On one of the white melamine cupboard doors beneath the sink, a brightly-illuminated geometrical shape had formed, with that insistent optical sharpness and clarity that says to the brain, "This is real!"

Now, the Prof is always amused by my susceptibility to the uncanny, which she attributes to a certain unwise level of, ah, chemical indiscretion in my youth, which is compounded by my reluctance to wear spectacles.  I'm afraid the world is not yet ready for the story of the monkey I saw riding a tricycle in a Caen carpark, while waiting for a car ferry home on a family holiday.  But she was still upstairs, waiting for a cup of tea, so I took my time scrutinising this apparition.

It was familiar.  It was ...  Surely it was the decorative leaded lights from our front door, but upside down, and somehow shining through the closed kitchen door?  I then realised what was going on:  the rising sun was shining brightly through the glass panel on the front door, and passing through the keyhole in the kitchen door, which was acting as a pinhole and projecting a virtual image of the pebbled glass and lead cames onto the handy white melamine screen opposite.

I ran to get a camera, but the crucial alignment had started to go by the time I returned, so all I have to show you is this over-processed grab-shot of a fading vision:

If you're familiar with the work of Abelardo Morell, you'll know what a travesty this image is, but it's a tribute nonetheless to one of the most creative photographers working today, who took a single, simple idea and really ran with it.

It may happen again tomorrow, at a slightly later time, or it may not -- a neighbouring roof or chimney pot may intercept the necessary alignment of elements.  Or it may be cloudy.  Maybe next year...  One thing's for sure, though: I won't be sealing the kitchen doorway tomorrow morning with black plastic à la Morell just to see what the front of the house looks like projected onto the back of the house.


Kent Wiley said...

Thanks for the link to Morell, Mike. Great stuff, especially the tent camera projections on the ground.

Good luck with your keyhole projection.

Mike C. said...


The ground images are great, aren't they? Something magic about analogue layers...

"Rain stopped play" this morning, I'm afraid, on the keyhole front.


Patrick Dodds said...

Crikey - Stonehenge in yr kitchen. You'll have to be there at the same time exactly in a year. Or six months possibly.
I've never seen a monkey on a bike in a car park, though there was a time with some miniature lobsters in the sink....