The recently installed artwork, Fitting by Rebecca Cummins on SW Barton Street, features two camera obscuras perched at the top of the stairs that lead down to Henderson Street in West Seattle. The “cameras” are converted water gate valves that provide inverted, panoramic 350° views of the area, which includes the Delridge Combined Sewer Overflow Tank (CSO 169) site. Installed above the recently retrofitted CSO Tank 169, Fitting illuminates the important infrastructure work that CSO Tank 169 represents and the waterway it protects, Longfellow Creek.
A camera obscura is an optical device that led to the development of photography and the photographic camera. Through the lens of the cameras, vehicles and pedestrians will appear upside down and moving in the opposite direction. Cummins installed the cameras at two different heights for accessibility; a taller one to allow for adults and a shorter one for disabled persons or children.
The two camera obscuras are fabricated from valves and pipes that are typically used by Seattle Public Utilities for drainage and wastewater; Seattle Public Utilities constructs combined sewer overflows for the city. Large gate valves create the light-tight chambers and steel pipes form the structural mounts. An acrylic lens on one side of the valve cameras invert views of the surrounding environment and project them onto a frosted acrylic screen midway in the chamber. A viewing aperture directly opposite the lens allows the audience to peer in and observe the moving, colorful image that is projected upside down on the screen.
About Rebecca Cummins
Artist Rebecca Cummins explores the sculptural, experiential and sometimes humorous possibilities of light and natural phenomena, often referencing the history of optics in her installations that have included a machine for making rainbows, a photographic rifle, paranoid dinner-table devices and a variety of sculptural and photographic approaches to marking time. Other projects record the movement of shadows in daylight and moonlight over regular time intervals. She is currently working on commissions for the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA) and the Exploratorium in San Francisco. She has exhibited widely in Australia, the U.S., and Europe; exhibitions include the Shanghai Biennial, Shanghai, China; the South Australia Biennale of Australian Art, the Biennial of Seville, Seville, Spain and Wireless Experience, Museum of Contemporary Art KIASMA in Helsinki, Finland.
Commissioned with Seattle Public Utilities 1 % for Art funds.