Sylvia Grace Borda: Snow Cameras

Photography, 2016

Over an early Spring period near the forest kota (warming hut) at Mustarinda, Borda and Donnelly created three ephemeral cameras from snow. Each structure incorporated both a lens and moveable screen to act as a camera obscura.  The camera obscura has been used since antiquity as a way to project images of the natural environment onto a screen for observation and recording.

Playful and disarming, the snow cameras provide passersby at Mustarinda a means to enter a transitory space to contemplate projected images, which are changeable depending on the intensity of the daylight or temperature. The artists’ work are reflectors questioning environmental change and the image’s transience.  This notion came to sharp realization as the camera structures started to collapse as they could only be sustained in temperatures under 5 degrees C. 

In this way the snow cameras further act as markers in an Anthropocene context and at a time when localised climates are shifting. Mustarinda, for example, has been known to have lingering snow until early June, but this is altering with more unsettled precipitation during the springtime. As the month moves on there is a matching uncertainty of how much longer any of the snow cameras will remain. 

Presently the snow cameras are acting as a type of memento mori illustrating their change and decay as processes and as tools for wider discourse about art and ecologies.

The artists hope to build a new iteration of snow cameras at Mustarinda next Winter with lenses and viewing screens made of ice, thereby, creating a camera completely produced from natural resources. Such a venture will be a first of its kind.