Camera Obscura: Times Square in Hotel Room


Abelardo Morell (American, born Cuba, 1948)




Pigmented inkjet print


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Purchase with funds from Charlotte Dixon and the Friends of Photography

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A dazzling flash of Times Square advertisements splashes against a nondescript hotel room, turning blank walls and bedsheets into a canvas for noisy colors and text. The inverted images, distorted by the surfaces of walls and furniture, bewilder and disorient the viewer. A place for sleep is invaded by inescapable clamor and motion. To create this photograph, Abelardo Morell captured the visual phenomenon of the camera obscura, a precursor to the modern camera. Through a small opening, light enters a darkened enclosure, projecting an inverted image of the outside world. Morell’s work often focuses on this juxtaposition of inside and outside. Born in Cuba, Morell came to the United States as a teenager in 1962 when his family fled to avoid political persecution. He is best known for his use of the camera obscura, beginning in the intimate space of his own home and then expanding to include New York, significant cultural landmarks in the United States and around the world, and eventually Cuba, on his first trip back in forty years. Morell has experimented with other techniques—including photograms, still-life tableaux, stop-motion studies, and the tent camera—all with the objective of exploring visual perception.

Image Copyright

© Abelardo Morell.