Claude Mirror Project
A new installation by artist Alex McKay at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site lets you see Thomas Cole's favorite view at any time of day, any season of the year, in all kinds of weather, as reflected in a 19th-century optical device called a "Claude Mirror." Enjoy the live streaming video below, and scroll down for more information about this exciting project.
The Claude Mirror is an optical device used in the 18th and 19th centuries by tourists and artists for viewing, drawing and painting the landscape. It was named after the 17th-century French painter Claude Lorraine, as it was thought to transform a view into something resembling a painting by that artist. It was used on popular tourism routes such as the "Grand Tour" of Europe and here in the Hudson River Valley, with designated Claude Mirror ‘Viewing Stations’ duly marked on tourist maps.
Alex McKay, BFA Hon. (U. Windsor), MFA (The School of the Art Institute of Chicago) was born in Detroit, MI and raised in Windsor, Ontario. He is a dual national (USA & Canada) of English and Scottish extraction. His interests lie in issues of landscape, place and identity. He has an extensive body of work exploring the fraught relationship between First Nations and the dominant Settler Culture of Canada and the USA.
He is currently the Visual Arts Editor for the Windsor Review, a quarterly art and literary journal through the Department of English, University of Windsor. He has taught at the University of Western Ontario, the University of Windsor and the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, MI. The courses have included Studio Fundamentals/Foundations, Photography and Visual Narrative. He has conducted a workshop for High School teachers at the Yale British Art Center on making and using simple Camera Obscura and Camera Lucida in the classroom. He has held Research Fellowships from the Yale Center for British Art, the Inaugural Smith Fellowship for Independent Scholars from the Canadian Society for 18th Century Studies, the Humanities Research Group (University of Windsor), as well as invitations to speak at universities and conferences such as the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, the University of Saskatoon, and the 2008 NASSR (North American Society for the Study of Romanticism) conference. In addition, the BBC created a webpage devoted to his project that installed a Claude Mirror at Tintern Abbey in Wales.
More information about the Claude Mirror device can be found in the following online article: "AN EYE MADE QUIET: The Claude Mirror & the Picturesque"
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