Robert Frank said the photograph must contain the humanity of the moment and convey a vision.
I exhibit humanity’s vision for itself. No Dark in Sight is funded to convey how artificial light occupies the night– as a dystopian condition rewriting our connection to night. Photography means to “write with light”, which is why the camera so perfectly narrates the story of our desultory nights.
When night looks like day, we have a problem. Using the Bortle Night Brightness Scale, I travel to make images in overly lit terrestrial sites. Focused on sustainable practice, I now realize we live in the false promise of a post-industrial revolution– immersed by inventions that dismantle the biosphere. Trained to see light as an ally, I now call it a frenemy. That may sound abstract but is not absurd. It’s okay to be afraid of the dark but less so to be unafraid of its absence. Light is not a hero and darkness no enemy.
Quality of light affects quality of life. Darkness is disenfranchised by light pollution. My dye sublimation aluminum prints explore why. Buildings disappear into an orange abyss, flora contort, food chains break, swarming insects collapse, industry spikes commercial lighting, and civilizations bask in the glow of electrified candles. Our diminishing biosphere cannot sustain consumer appetite for synthetic light. Secondhand light is a cultural and medical issue– not unlike secondhand smoke. Excessive light is a threat to wellbeing. We should not have a net opposition to engineered light, but rather an employment of its functionally wise applications.
Let there be (less) light. Humans embrace light’s defeat of darkness– but darkness is not the enemy. Institutionally, religiously, psychologically, and industrially, societies uniquely define light as a prerequisite for triumph over darkness. Fear of the dark is understandable but fake light is no savior.
Manufactured light is oppressive. It is concentrated in oppressed communities– thus it compromises already underserved populations. Let us not overlook the historical value of natural darkness to American slaves who used stars to navigate towards freedom.
Less natural is the new normal. Night has an identity crisis. Engineered light explains why. No Dark in Sight implores viewers to consider this unsustainable “sky culture”.
This is a personal story about a public crisis. No Dark in Sight unfolds the slow-motion emergency of a pretty poison that charms us to digest this consumer convenience. To make these nocturne images I taste that poison– all to better contextualize the perceived normalcy of colonizing life at night with such grotesque and jaundiced auburn haze. It is a disquieting condition pathologizing our desire to regret an unwillingness to change– a zest to fail.
When night looks like night, we can embrace its lifeforce. No Dark in Sight exhibits why and how that matters by inviting populations to adopt foresight intelligence, employ reason, and manage their communities in less artificial ways.
No Dark in Sight coincidentally reimagines the critique and discussion about art. Future conversations must employ the foresight intelligence needed to sustain wellbeing for all. Environmental, economic, and social topics must drive future discourse.
"The scientist does not study nature because it is useful to do so.
[S/he] studies it because [s/he] takes pleasure in it
and [s/he] takes pleasure in it because it is beautiful.
If nature were not beautiful it would not be worth knowing
and life would not be worth living."
- Henri Poincare, Science and Method
This is knowledge as aesthetic experience.
Which came first… art, science, or education? Could any exist without the presence of the other/s? Perhaps science defi(n)es art? Both are natural experiments in self-education. This work celebrates the perpetual nature of art, science, and education as contributions from three unlikely sources- Cave Art, Rudolf Steiner, and John Cage. Cave art is message in its most mechanical and material form- pigment and stone. Steiner proposed education as inherently creative. Cage forever legitimized art as improbable and science as inevitable. These three sources triangulate my art-making process for this Palimpsest series. It is native, it is educative, it is science, and it is art.
While chalkboards were material used for this ongoing series, the resulting images are more akin to palimpsests, which are partially erased and rewritten instructional monastic parchments that continue to convey previous information.
The diagrams and marks I draw postulate observations on the interrelationships of time, light, sound, and perception. I use them in selected lectures on photography and imagery.
Whereas this work represents that which attracts my attention, it is the fractal collision of research on one surface that drives and deregulates my imagination. Intentional eraser smears are included to suggest that chalkboards and palimpsests, like minds and photographs, have memory. While parts of the work trace the history of light and optics, they also visit how one processes knowledge. As information expands, we may become disconnected from its message.
This series seeks to operate amongst the inseparable whimsy of imagination and sobriety of intellect. Through its guidance I have learned to oscillate from a fixed point, swinging on a pendulum between art and science. At mid-swing, both join to replicate the nature of life itself.
"The soul will not know either deformity or pain."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
I made this work to honor those who maintain composure in the face of adversity. If the above quote is correct, then so too is this one: "The body will know deformity and pain." The Manifest Rites portfolio is a black and white studio narrative lens-based project. It began as a way to identify the physical and sometimes psychological limitations that pre-existing or emerging conditions place on the human body, mind, and spirit. Cancer and chronic condition became a primary target for this work. I photographed women, men and myself– to communicate vulnerability, identity, composure, and the journey towards the re-definition of the self. At times, my models were in the middle of radiation, remission, and/or mainstream or alternative therapies. Like art itself, the work imparts transcendence and mindfulness.
These more personal images are made beyond the scope of a specific project or grant. In that context they more freely compose space, time, and light. Most are made during travel, which always seems to push the reset button on my visual acuity and attention. Like any journey into new frontiers, these images mindfully feel their way around places, things, and people. Field Notes reconnects me to my earliest years with the camera as an observational, intuitive, and exploratory experience. Thus, Field Notes reads between the lines of my career– more as spontaneous play and less as work.