During early April 2016 and near a forest kota (warming hut) by Mustarinda in Hyrynsalmi, Finland, Sylvia Grace Borda collaborated with Scottish sculptor, J.Keith Donnelly, to create a set of ephemeral cameras each made from snow and ice.
Each structure incorporated both a lens and movable screen that was transformed into 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 provided passersby at Mustarinda a means to enter a transitory space to contemplate projected images, which were changeable depending on the intensity of the daylight or temperature.
The artists’ work became 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. During the installation of the snow cameras over the month there was on-going uncertainty as to how much longer they would remain.
In this way the snow cameras acted as a type of memento mori illustrating their change and decay as processes and as tools for wider discourse about art and ecologies.
Sylvia Grace Borda and J.Keith Donnelly 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.
Read more about Sylvia's thoughts about photography and its relationship to the grid. For the artist the ability to produce a set of images directly from nature was a significant aspect to the development of the Snow Cameras.
The artists are grateful for project support from Mustarinda Arts Society & Frontiers in Retreat (EU Arts Funding)
Sylvia Grace Borda presented the 'Snow Cameras' as part of Vancouver's Capture Photography Festival, 2016.