Richard Torchia

State Museum of Pennsylvania

Through his use of lenses, Richard Torchia explores the history of perceptual systems,simultaneously confirming the pleasures of the experiential moment and drawing on the tradition of the camera obscura. In two earlier installations, Torchia invited the viewer into the “dark room” where he placed lenses in an exterior wall to reveal the world outside in a dizzying (in)version of reality. His recent, site-specific installation, Birds of the Commonwealth, A Peepshow, 1992, reflected a new level of control over the world his lenses might illuminate—here, Torchia included references to trompe l’oeil painting and 17th-century Dutch peep shows.

Given access to a selection of mounted birds from the museum’s study collection, Torchia created a pair of displays bordering a small staircase in the lobby. A slight wooden structure—a plein-air version of a camera obscura—framed and housed the birds.

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