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Take 5 Interview
The Take 5 Interview series is a continuation of featuring selected pinhole artists from around the planet. Each artist is asked a set of five questions that will shed light on their persona, their portfolio, and their creative take on this intriguing art form called pinhole photography. All questions are derived by Brian J. Krummel and answered by the respective artist in their own words.

April 23rd, 2010 : Matthias Hagemann
Matthias Hagemann, Barcelona, Spain, architect, co-founder of Galerie en passant, Berlin.
When did you first get interested in pinhole photography and how long have you been practicing this art form? List any creative influences that have shaped your own personal style.

My first real contact with pinhole photography was in 1996. I saw a small fascinating show in Seville, Spain, and was fortunate that the artist offered a weekend workshop. Immediatedly I was caught by the pinhole virus, and started creating pinholes of my own the very next day. Later, the Camera Obscura book by Thomas Bachler introduced me to the wide range of possibilities of pinhole photography, when combined with ideas and an open mind. In 2003 I participated in my first group exhibit in Berlin.

Over the last few years, I've traveled to festivals and collective shows all over Europe and had the chance to meet many interesting pinholers from around the world; typically a pleasant, patient kind of people.

Matthias Hagemann
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Which characteristics of pinhole are most attractive to you and applicable to your work?
For me, the most important aspect of pinhole photography is the ingredient of time. My pinhole images mostly include a sense of patience, the difference between solid parts and moving ones. My great passion is to turn time into something you can see, feel or understand. The issue of time exists in a great sense through all the steps of the process: from building the camera, preparing it in the darkroom, carrying these large items to spots of easy or complicated access, the minutes of exposure on photographic paper, discussions with security staff, and working in the darkroom work afterwards. Everything involves time and patience in this production procedure.

Another characteristic of this artform that fascinates me is the possibility to manipulate and easily modify the camera, or to even first conceptualize a picture then afterwords build the camera to expose it. An enormous amount of creativity is involved, with only a small amount of technicality required. Perfection in the classical meaning of photography doesn't exist with pinhole photography, yet I'm fascinated even more. Finally, I love the results of pinhole photography. Showing us things our own eyes can not see.

Copyright © 2008 Matthias Hagemann
Grenzvernetzer series
Berlin 2008
(Potsdamer Platz). Approx.exposure 3 minutes.

Copyright © 2009 Matthias Hagemann
Grenzvernetzer series
Berlin 2009
(OberbaumbrÜcke)

Copyright © 2007 Matthias Hagemann
The images above were captured with matthias' boxocam camera (left).

camera:
boxocam (IKEA based tin cam) , f=236, pinhole 0,5mm

Light-sensitive material:
Ilfospeed RC Grad 2 photographic paper
Which new techniques would you like to experiment within the year?
I am working on long-term pinholes and just started working with zoneplates, a very different lensless process compared with pinhole work. I'm quite curious about it.

I am also preparing a special pinhole project, where I combine the camera, the chemistries and the motifs together as one and the same drink. I hope it works.
What creative tools and techniques do you use, such as any specific cameras, film, development, or printing processes?
I build my own cameras, typically using tins, magnetic foils and paper negatives. Occasionally I modify simple old cameras from the thirties to the sixties, like the Agfa Boxes or the famous Clack. In my most recent show in Barcelona, "Congelador Del Tiempo", (a collaborative project with Luigi Brisso), we converted a second-hand domestic fridge into a pinhole camera and "froze" scenes from a run-down industrial district.

Mainly I work with classical black and white analogue processes. Some of my final prints have also been digital Diasec prints. The printing technique I use depends on the theme, not a dogma.

Copyright © 2006 Matthias Hagemann
screen grab from www.boxocam.de

These three images are from the boxocam series.
Why is pinhole photography important to you?
Pinhole photography is the visual expression of slowness and patience. People normally think that everything should happen with only the click of a mouse, but this is not real life. Once I created an installation where the spectator had to stick his head in and wait several seconds before darkness slowly revealed an image and some hidden text. It worked exactly as I had hoped. Some people left within a few seconds, not having the patience for their eyes to adjust and saw nothing, others waited until they could more or less decipher silhuettes, and the last group wanted to see everything including the last hidden sentence. All this required was just a silly tiny opening called a pinhole. Fascinating!

Copyright © 2009 Daniel Bahrmann
Barrel of Slow Time, Camera Obscura installation.
 
Final Thoughts: Matthias utilizes strong graphical elements in his work, from circular vignettes to negative/reversed imagery. The stark black and white tones are more than interesting while enhanced by his selection of subject matter. His homemade cameras offer plenty to ponder as well. To view more of Matthias' work, you can find him through numerous websites including www.boxocam.de (German language) and www.congeladordeltiempo.com (project blog, Spanish language).

- BJK, April 2010.