As a photographer, Shelley Given is interested in the transformative properties of light, and its capacity to influence our experience of an environment. She is aware that people might be hesitant to spend time in a dark, enclosed room within an abandoned board-up, however she has tried to tap into the space’s potential to become a place of wonder, as well as a catalyst for discovery and play. The first part of her project is located in an upstairs bedroom where she built a camera obscura (a dark room with a dime-sized opening letting light in from the outside). This might not sound like much until viewers sit long enough for their eyes to adjust to see an upside-down and laterally reversed image of the neighborhood projected on the walls and ceiling. This is a room-sized camera where visitors can watch kids run along the sidewalk, cars drive by, and clouds float across the sky in real-time. The second part of her project is a time-lapse animation taken inside the camera obscura, tracking the subtle way light changes the appearance of house and the neighborhood.
As a photographer, Shelley Given’s work has been exhibited in the United States and abroad, and she currently works as Visiting Assistant Professor of Photography at Indiana University in Bloomington. She hopes that the House Life Project will be a opportunity to “inspire wonder and curiosity” through her craft.