Camera Isolata

An art project by Naho Kawabe

See you in the small white chamber under the ocean

The “Camera Isolata” is a project realized through a special grant for artists under the Sars-Cov-19 pandemic from the Hamburgische Kulturstiftung. The motto of this grant is „Art knows no shutdown“ and it supports projects that take an artist’s approach to a world that is under lockdown 2020.

The Latin derived term “Camera Isolata“ characterizes a closed and isolated room – concretely and symbolically – an isolated space situation. Camera Isolata is the space in which we isolate ourselves during the pandemic. At the same time the modern use of the word Camera refers to an electronic optical device, the camera, often built into a computer or smartphone that produces a cut out of people’s upper half, taken from real space and cast into virtual space. This way Camera Isolata becomes an online space, forming its geographic centre somewhere under the ocean in submarine cables like the Asia pacific gateway, the SeaMeWe, the FLAG Atlantic and many others.
As the custodian of the Camera Isolata I chose a fictional art-figure loaned from a fossilised yet still existing animal, the Nautilus. This creature that has been living in the oceans for some 500 million years has several hollowed out chambers (camera) in its shell. Its ancient eyes have no lens, creating an image like a camera obscura.

This Project „Camera Isolata” consists of three experiment-videos with six artists who I invited:

Jane Brucker, visual artist, USA
Miss Hawaii, musician, Japan
Henrik Malmström, photographer, Argentina
Setbyol Oh, light designer, Germany
Ziyun Wang, painter, China
Yohei Yama, painter, Vietnam,

accompanied by six short texts about their recent lives in their residences.

At first, I used an online meeting app, of the type that rapidly spread through our societies during this lockdown, to contact the artists living in different and far-flung countries to discuss our situation under the pandemic. ​
As an aside, I asked each of them what they might want do to get to know someone new. Though perhaps a very naive question, after 2020, our previous established ways of making contact with people might change dramatically. I thought, maybe we can make it the subject of this project.
Online communication will continue to expand, honing its methods and tools. While it seems convenient for humanity to use this new technology and develop its processual practice, humanity also changes in the process. We found it interesting to explore what is unlikely to work with this new online technology rather than to discuss how to master it – including an awareness of future generations potentially losing today’s knowledge, social behaviours and aesthetic sensibilities.

In the end, we decided to do three communication-experiments / actions in three groups using that small online space of the „Camera Isolata“. In each case two artists – who have never met – spend a certain amount of time together in this room, in quasi quarantine.

Group 1 Spend time without talking (meditation)
Group 2 Spend time working (manual work)
Group 3 Spend time drawing

When the custodian signals the end of the quarantine period, each isolated artist takes their still running computer and walks out, until the WiFi connection breakes up, symbolising the boundaries of our social connection.


An art project by Naho Kawabe
All texts were wrote in July 2020 by Naho Kawabe

Participating Artists: Jane Brucker, Miss Hawaii, Henrik Malmström, Setbyol Oh, Ziyun Wang, Yohei Yama
Website design: kryptothek
Video sound: Veit Kenner
Proofreading: Helmut Kostreba, Masaya Kawakatsu

This project is supported by Hamburgische Kulturstiftung, Hilfsfonds »Kunst kennt keinen Shutdown« 2020​

Privacy policy | Legal Notice
© Naho Kawabe 2020