Assistant Professor of Art
Photography and Design
Office: Renaissance Hall 324G
M.F.A., University of North Dakota, Grand Forks
B.Arch., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Consider the camera a tool for perception. This is where I being my photographic practice. First I contemplate the subject matter, typically a landscape or space, and envision how the camera might perceive this chosen space. I then ask how I can operate or construct the tool to observe the space in an objective way.
I am particularly drawn to the pinhole camera as it breaks down the barriers between space and record, creating a pure projection of light and atmosphere, perspective and scale. The added element of time afforded by the pinhole results in an image that visualizes the presence of light and perspective parallel to experienced reality.
As I watch the silver reveal itself in the developer tray I feel as if stepping into a dream - transported to a mysterious, yet somehow familiar world. The views are imprinted on my mind, yet the final image is different from my experienced reality. They are simple atmospheric gradations of light that become place and no-place at the same time, challenging the relevance of vantage point and scale and demonstrating the affect of time on our perception of visible space.
This inquiry into the fundamental elements of photography and the surprising aesthetic I discover through this investigation is the primary driver of my photographic pursuit.
Meghan Duda creates atmospheric recordings of space and time with a collection of handmade pinhole cameras. She was born in western Massachusetts and raised on the South Carolina coast. After earning her bachelor degree in Architecture from Virginia Tech in 2005 she began traveling the country photographing vernacular architecture. Settling in Fargo, North Dakota in 2007 she was struck by the surrounding landscape and her photographic focus shifted to experimental landscape photography. It was while pursuing an MFA at the University of North Dakota that she built her first handmade camera which she named the Trailer Obscura - a 5’ x 8’ pinhole camera on wheels that she uses to make large atmospheric recordings of the prairie. Duda continues to construct cameras as a way to explore vantage point and perspective and to express the many ways in which the camera perceives light.
Who are your role models or inspiring folks?
Helene Binet, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Gordon Matta-Clark, Vera Lutter, Stephen Shore
Outside of art and design fields, what inspires you?
Landscape explorations, ecology, re-wilding
What do you wish you had known when you started out as a student/in this field?
That there are many, many paths to take in the design fields. Although I went into undergrad believing I would become an architect, I found so much more to love about the design field, and photography, and I was able to carve my own career path that looks very different than I thought it would going into school.
What was your most memorable meal?
It was at a small restaurant in a tiny village called Rovio in Switzerland. It was at the end of a very long hike up [and back down] an adjacent mountain, and we arrived in the dark, after walking through the narrow streets of the village. We were the only people in the restaurant, and we ordered pumpkin soup, which was served in a hollowed out pumpkin shell.
In your office, you can only have three things, one book, one tool, and one picture. What would they be and why?
The Nature of Photographs by Stephen Shore. It so eloquently puts into words all the things I know and feel about photography and it is nice to remind myself of that periodically. My camera, of course. The picture is hardest, because there are so many that are important to me. I think I would have to choose a photo of the dock at my family lake house, because it is my happy place and has served as my sanctuary on many occasions.
© J. Alan Paul Photography