Marian Roth

Marian Roth

Fellow: Awarded 2000
Field of Study: Photography

Competition: US & Canada

I paint, I work on a lithography press, and I make photographs. Whenever I am blessed by opportunity, I build cameras that I inhabit.

My visual work is a life-long fascination with time, light, and memory. Though I have been making camera obscura images for over 25 years, I have most recently been transforming common, utilitarian spaces into ones that put me inside the camera itself. It is a complete immersion, focused on capturing the less apparent visual mysteries of everyday life.

A hot dog stand, a geodesic dome, an outhouse, a jeep, and an ice-fishing tent – these are among the cameras I have made and used. Intentionally reduced to just myself and a primitive technology in a darkened world, I attempt to capture what the eye does not know it sees, and what the spirit knows to exist.

While the technical process is simple, the creative one is not. Once inside, I arrange various canvases or surfaces – boards, hand-painted aluminum flashing, tissue paper – to capture light and time as they bend together in space. It is a process of aligning and assembling the acts of seeing, knowing and making something new.

There is a magic inside the darkness of my cameras. The sun-filled natural world projects upside-down and backwards on every surface – fly paper for a purer reality to stick upon. Clouds move along the floor, passers-by appear on the ceiling. The darkness and quiet hold light and time in their original essence.

Although I understand the physics of the camera, I am continually surprised and awed by what happens inside, as light comes through a tiny hole and presents itself in the fullness of its mystery.

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