‘Binocular Vision’ uses a homemade piece of photographic equipment to recreate the perspective seen when looking through a pair of binoculars. The intention behind the work was to recreate and fix the effects of magnification, depth and scale experienced when using binoculars and contemplate the influence these effects have on our perception of the natural world while birdwatching. ‘Binocular Vision’ imitates the shallow depth of field witnessed when birdwatching as well as the binocular’s ability to pierce through branches and undergrowth to reveal the birds within.
The process of building the binocular lens involved sawing a pair of 8x40 binoculars in half, before attaching it to a camera body via a series of filter rings. All the properties of the binoculars, including magnification and depth of field are then experienced when using the camera. This includes the circular black frame which is created directly from the lens and can be seen when looking through the viewfinder. The circular frame evidences the binoculars as a vital component in the creation of the photographs and resulting perspective experienced by the spectator.
The new, fixed perspective of ‘Binocular Vision’ is an examination of one form of viewing (birdwatching with binoculars) through another form of viewing (photography). It is the combination of both forms of viewing, which led to the creation of the new photographic perspective.
The work taps directly into what underpins photography; its ability to observe, react and record. These fundamental photographic processes are emulated in birdwatching and importantly, in the course of creating the photographs of ‘Binocular Vision’. Birdlife was first observed, before being reacted to and finally recorded; fixed in the subsequent photographs.
The work is a combination of single photographs and sequences. The still photographs fix the binocular perspective, while the sequences record the movements and behaviours of the birds. The sequences allow us to witness the in-between moments. Moments which aren’t normally seen in still photographs, as they are between one idealised photograph and the next. The single photographs and sequences come together to form a new representation of birdlife. One which documents the birds in their own habitat and their own world. The binocular perspective mediates our view of the birds and allows the viewer to peer into the world of the birds. The work is therefore, a new perspective on a subject that has been the topic of folklore, writing and art for centuries. The work gives a fleeting, more realistic depiction of what bird watching is really like, sometimes extremely frustrating and at other times highly rewarding. It avoids the technical extremities of modern high-end photography to document the birds in a more naturalistic manner.
Alexander J Carnie