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Camera Lucida & the black magic box


Proposal for the new Marubi Photography Museum in Shkodër.

"Camera Lucida and the Black Magic Box" is the proposal presented by gosplan and Valter Scelsi to the restricted competition for the renovation of the Marubi Photography Museum in Shkodër, Albania. The short film, realized in stop motion using a reflex camera, has been conceived and produced in a restricted time - just the night before the public presentation of the project, to accommodate a request of the competition commission.

The project transfers the museum identity into an architectural statement. The Marubi Museum is in fact a photography museum with a strong emphasis on its vintage collection of XIX century prints and plates. The architects respond to this by adapting a traditional, almost literal, understanding of analog photography: the dialectic relationship between light and shade. As a result, the museum's atmosphere is designed through a nuanced and dynamical orchestration of bright and dark spaces.

Aside from the window apertures, natural light filters from the U-glass rear facade overlooking the garden and fills the interior with steady and diffuse lighting, while the center of the museum hosts a large scaffold-like structure containing within it two dark and artificially lit rooms. The dichotomy between light and shade is embodied in the concept of an architecture rooted in the relation between the dark core of the Black Magic Box - dedicated to archiving and preserving at the ground floor, and with space on the first floor for video installations and projections - having bright areas surrounding it, being specifically designed for temporary and permanent exhibitions.

The Black Magic Box is conceived as "architecture-in-architecture". The box both preserving and displaying media on the two floors of the museum. The ground floor of the Black Magic Box hosts the photonegative section of the archive; where, located on shelving on the exterior of the Box are cases where photonegative film can be displayed safely. The interior of the Box also houses the ticket desk and a small laboratory for restoration and preservation of the most delicate and precious pieces of the photonegative collection. The first floor of the Black Magic Box displays tools for photography on external shelves and houses an empty black box for projections, videos, and multimedia installations.


Architect: gosplan, Valter Scelsi
Mentioned project: Marubi museum (2014)
Project location: Shkodër, Albania
Engineering: b11, Federica Pompejano
Museum Curator: Francesco Garutti, Anna Lovecchio

Italy 2014
Duration: 1'43''