Beck, Udo

Udo Beck, Nuernberg, Germany

Born 1965 in Schwabach
Studies of Chemical Engineering in Nuremberg
Lives and works as engineer and artist in Nuremberg
Since 2003 teacher at Photokunst Sommerakademie Hamburg

Camera Obscura

When Walter Benjamin remarked in 1931 in "A Brief History of Photography" that " is a different nature that speaks to the camera than to the eye, "1 he was referring, among other things, to the work of Edward Muybridge and Etienne-Jules Marey towards the end of the 19th century, which investigated the previously invisible movements of humans and animals by means of photographs. Looking at their works today, one comes to the conclusion that both obviously saw their movement studies not only as scientific studies, but also in an aesthetic context.

These and other works are an expression of a rapprochement, perhaps rather unconsciously striven for by the originators, between the disciplines of art and natural sciences, which at that time were already clearly estranged from each other, and made possible a new view of the nature of things and thus of reality. Against the background of these considerations, I experiment with experimental setups in which self-built camera obscurae with multiple light entry apertures capture an image of reality. The photographic results obtained show the apparatus' very own, direct view of reality. At the same time, they differ considerably from images produced by conventional cameras, which are generally considered to represent the human gaze. The "human image processing" usually finds it difficult to recognize what is really depicted in them. Perhaps it is also the case, as the Swedish author, amateur alchemist and photo experimenter August Strindberg put it at the end of the 19th century, that only with the camera obscura, which is open and not closed with glass, is something of an object or place really deposited on the photographic plate, and only with it can something really be recorded and taken along.

1 Walter Benjamin, "Little History of Photography," 1931

2 August Strindberg, "Confused Sensory Impressions," Basel/Dresden 1998


Udo Beck – Camera obscura - ISBN 3-925121-27-7


Kunstraum Carmen Oberst, Hamburg, Germany
City Library Leipzig, Germany
Galeriehaus Nuremberg, Germany