Vera Lutter (b. 1960) is well-known for her unique photographs representing scenes of architecture, transportation and industry created with one of the earliest photographic devices: the camera obscura. When the image is developed – after an exposure process of several hours, days or weeks – it is a black and white negative assuming precise yet mirage-like perspectives. By showing familiar venues like Venetian architecture, urban sites of Manhattan or Egypt's great pyramids, the images are immediately recognizable but the inversion of tones and the passage of time captured induce uncanny presences that invite a closer observation.
‘Devoid of a lens, the pinhole of the camera obscura - the aperture - permits a direct imprint of the subject it confronts. By retaining the negative rather than reprinting to create a positive image Lutter adheres as closely as possible to the original activity of light tracing form on photo-sensitive paper. This, in turn, means that concrete elements seem but echoes of themselves, faint traces of what would appear in a conventional print to be substantive in mass as well as in volume. Normally regarded as factual and objective, the trompe l’oeil illusionism that is emblematic of the documentary is undermined, to varying degrees, in her work by effects of the fleeting and evanescent that may at times verge on the eerie or the uncanny. By utilizing photosensitive paper in the largest dimensions available, she produces images imbued with a monumental scale, grandeur and gravitas akin to that associated with the subject matter itself. Invested with a quasi architectural dimension, her unique prints have few parallels in the history of photography.’
Lynne Cooke, Vera Lutter: Time after Time in Vera Lutter: Inside Out, Kunsthaus Graz, 2004