Claude Chamber
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Claude Mirror
Claude Glass
Camera obscura

How to Cite

Myllylä, S. ., & Vainikka, L. . (2024). Claude Chamber: A Printmaking/Moving Image Collaboration Inspired by an Eighteenth-Century Viewfinder. IMPACT Printmaking Journal, 2, 13.


Proto-photographic and proto-cinematic technologies are an unending source of inspiration for a visual artist. We want to consider the case of an eighteenth-century optical device, the Claude mirror, as a starting point for an artistic collaboration.

The Claude mirror is a small black convex mirror named after the painter Claude Lorrain and used by late eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century painters and travellers for viewing landscapes. The dark mirror surface produces an image with a limited tonal range, allowing the viewer to look at the environment as if it were a painting. A famous Thomas Gainsborough drawing shows a man seated on a bank with a sketchbook on his lap and holding an oval mirror propped against a tree branch (Gainsborough, 1750-55).

In spring 2019, in a flash of joint inspiration, we conceived a method of combining aspects of our artistic processes: Salla’s moving image and Laura’s printmaking practice. For 18 months, we captured photographic time-lapse sequences of everyday views from the backyards of our studios, residencies, and homes as reflections on the surface of copper plates installed in the environment (Myllylä and Vainikka, 2021). In the resulting installation, titled Claude Chamber, we projected the video sequences on the gallery space, reflected via the same mirror surfaces, and the projected images became distorted and spatial.

We were intrigued by this optical device, in which characteristics of photography and printmaking meet. One can think of a Claude glass as a predecessor of the camera viewfinder, an early photographic gesture. It can also be viewed as a printing plate, a matrix reflecting a view. In a traditional printing plate, the image is attached or fastens itself onto the surface of the plate; in our installation, the image is transient and moving.
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Copyright (c) 2024 Salla Myllylä, Laura Vainikka


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