« back

Big Tools Small Tools

This installation looks at space through the use of a single camera obscura lens and multiple spy and toy video cameras.  A live view of the street outside the gallery’s storefront window is projected on a wall inside the Para/Site Art Space via a camera obscura lens. The camera obscura’s lens inverts the image of the street scene. Layered into that inverted street projection are multiple small video monitor displays of details of the same street scene.  These projections are live allowing incoming visitors to slowly discover the various camera sources, and begin to interact with their surroundings. The camera obscura projection is a live image of what is happening outside projected onto the inside wall, a constantly moving picture in real time which has no grain, needs no development and has no permanence. The video is the detail, the pixilated image of the big picture. Details of sites hidden to the naked eye, are revealed by the close-up scrutiny of the video cameras, creating an electronic mediation of the same projected landscape from the camera obscura. These various images of the landscape collapse the inside-outside observation we encounter regularly through mapping systems, surveillance panels, baby monitors and telephoto lenses—bringing together different spaces with enhanced modes of observation.

Big Tools /Small Tools combined the works of artists, Kathy High and Melissa Dyne. This collaborative project took place during an artist-residency for Kathy High sponsored by the Asian Cultural Council and the Art School of Hong Kong Arts Centre. Both artists are from the United States. Dyne works with revamping old optical devices and for this collaboration developed the hand-crafted lens technology for the camera obscura. High works with digital video and has an interest in low-tech electronic imaging technology, exploring the cultural influences and meaning of these tools.

Big Tools Small Tools


A collaborative site-specific installation about light, landscape and surveillance by Kathy High and Melissa Dyne at the Para/Site Art Space, Hong Kong. Looking at various ways of seeing, the installation Big Tools /Small Tools combines analog and digital, macro and micro imaging in one space to contrast different modes of observation.



Click images below to view larger.