As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m making preparations already for an art installation that’ll be part of a rural sculpture trail, held next year in 2008. An idea I’m kicking around is to build a cloud chamber in the woodland glade. Here’s my initial design:
Putting the design to paper helped in talking it through with my father (who owns the land) and a builder – the brilliant Alan – who thinks it’s feasible but will need some design input if he’s to get involved; specifically an elevation and clarity about the structure of the roof. I’d like to make the walls with straw bales and cover the whole thing with earth. Rectangular straw bales should be cheap and reasonably available locally, but most farmers produce huge circular bales today that aren’t much cop as building bricks.
The idea of the cloud chamber is a version of the age-old camera obscura, utilised by a British land artist, Chris Drury, for example, as he did in Kent:
It works like a pinhole camera, with optical lenses being unnecessary, and the light of the sun being enough to project an image onto some kind of backdrop, in this case the ground. Of course, it is possible to use lenses and a bit of simple technical wizardry to create a crystal clear image, like that of a US-based photographer who sets his kit up in city office blocks or hotel rooms; I suspect either way – au naturel or urban chic – is enchanting but, to be frank, I of course prefer au naturel.