Sally Sheeks

Franc van Oort - Eyebox

Fieldwork 2015, Franc van Oort, Eyebox
Fieldwork 2015, Franc van Oort, Eyebox concept drawing
Fieldwork 2015, Franc van Oort,
Fieldwork 2015, Franc van Oort, Eyebox
Fieldwork 2015, Franc van Oort, Eyebox drawings
Fieldwork 2015, Franc van Oort,

Franc van Oort's Eyebox has been a hit this year at Fieldwork for good reason.  It is an interactive, and facinating peek into how our eyes (and cameras) work, while also shifting perspectives of the surrounding landscape.

Franc describes his process:

"I have been experimenting with Camera Obscuras for a few years. The first one was just a portioned off part of my studio, built with cardboard, with a simple small hole in it. It worked as it should, and made me think of something to do with it.
Ideas occurred over the years.  I made a 4'X4' cardboard box mounted on a trailer, and hauled it around our field to see how well it would do. The projected image was not very crisp, and after experimenting with some old lenses, I found a lens that gave me a more or less perfect image. This could be used to trace an image, and get a very accurate drawing of a complicated shape, say a canoe in perspective. 

In the same way the Camera Obscura has been used in the past by artists to figure out the correct representation of buildings in perspective on a flat surface, which led to the establishment of a set of rules to follow when drawing things from life, i.e. multiple vanishing points, etc.

It was very hot and cramped in my little box, and I was thinking how nice it would be to have a somewhat bigger box, more like a room.  After visiting Fieldwork a couple of times I started thinking  that such a box would be a good idea for an installation there!  The Fieldwork Collective agreed, and so I started working on the idea more seriously.

I wanted not a single projection, but to be able to show the entire surrounding of the box, in 360 degrees. I designed things on paper, thinking I would use some sort of wooden gear to turn the box on its central axis.  This was easily enough done on paper, but how would it work when trying to turn a heavy 8'X8'X8' box?

I found a heavy duty lazy-susan type bearing which could probably support the weight of my box, and a number of casters that I mounted on a base, on which to turn the whole affair.  In the process my box became heavier than I had anticipated...more casters were needed to support the thing, and I abandoned the idea of wooden gears in favour of a big central 48" pulley made out of plywood, turned by a smaller(10") pulley, which in turn was driven by a 10-1 ratio gearbox. The smaller pulley turns the box around the big stationary one. Now the box turned beautifully, and didn't need a lot of strength to operate.

As for the lens, it also took a little experimenting to find one with the right focal length for this bigger box. Luckily Dr. Bain of the Perth Eye and Vision clinic was very helpful there!
Next came the painting of the surrounding landscape at the Fieldwork site, for which I recruited my sister-in-law Sally Sheeks, and my daughter Linda Hamilton, who are both accomplished mural painters, and not afraid to tackle a 8' x 32' painting!
We painted the scene in my barn, having put the big panels right side up, and side by side to make work easier.
What a blast to work with Linda and Sally! their enthusiasm was unstoppable, and we got the thing more or less done in a day.

The Eyebox, completed in my barn, now needed to be moved in pieces to the Fieldwork site, and reassembled.
This took some head-scratching, and help from a couple of friends, but we got it done, and voila the result!

My intention is not to use the Eyebox as an instrument to trace images, or produce art-pieces, but simply as a way to demonstrate the natural phenomenon that is a Camera Obscura.
What the box does is interact with the Fieldwork landscape and its visitors, and make us think of the similarity with the cameras we all use, as well as our own eyes, which work on the exact same principle.

I hope you will enjoy your visit, and get a kick out of it!"

Syndicate content