Projector Obscura

Not quite a camera obscura, in fact more of a projector, but with an interesting story of its own. its actually a fairly standard Business Kodak compact model with a plastic opaque screen at the back so you can project your 8mm film from within the box. it wasn’t accessioned on arrival in the collections but the sticker on the side reveals its story, A Cunard label gives the passenger details as John Alcock, travelling on the Queen Mary to Canada in the 1950s, date unclear.

what we do know of Mr Alcock however is that he was head of the Hunslet Engine Company at the time, and in the 1950s they were trying to break into the American market with their underground diesel locomotives. probably armed with this projector and films we now have in store at Yorkshire Film Archive, John headed for the American Mining Exhibition at the Cleveland Show in May 1953. Sadly he made no sales as the americans were convinced that underground diesel locomotives were not safe, opting instead for battery powered models, but i do wonder if he persuaded the ships purser to show some of his films on the ship……

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jenny Hack says:

    Cool blog dude – soz I messed up the link for you


  2. Polly says:

    There is something totally magic about projected light isn't there? The way that images flow from the projector and soften as they hit a flat surface. How the light can turn from a blinding, stinging light to a wonderous image, or a dull slide with bullet points just by meeting a wall. It's wonderful that, for a long time we have always been fascinated by the connection between light and image.
    Shortly going on display at Temple Newsam are a number of late eighteenth and early nineteenth century silhouettes by Miers of Leeds the foremost artist of his day. I can't help but think of all those people he came into his shop, sat on a chair and had light shine onto them. Did it warm them? Were they nervous? Did they wonder 'does my nose look big in this'? Is my nose big enough? I can imagine myself dying to look as he sketched my shadow, unable to move, frozen by the bright light and trying desparately not to giggle…
    And then a wait for a few days or weeks until the silhouette arrives, wrapped in paper. Opening it slowly to see a perfect shadow of myself encased in a golden oval frame. Hmm.. I should have worn a different hat.


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