Installations & Photography...Overview of select public art installations from multimedia exhibitions
The images below are from Braille Constellation, Seeing in the Dark, an installation originally in the 2016 at the Portland Winter Light Festival (and again asked to return in the 2020 event) of hundreds of LED puck lights placed a Braille pattern to spell out a quote from French World War II pilot and author Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “I, too, in this flight, am renouncing things. I am giving up the broad golden surfaces that would befriend me if my engines were to fail. I am giving up the landmarks by which I might be taking my bearings. I am giving up the profiles of mountains against the sky that would warn me of pitfalls. I am plunging into the night. I am navigating. I have on my side only the stars.” The quote is about his use of celestial navigation while flying at night over the Sahara Desert delivering mail to troops. The decision to focus on Braille is partly because spelled out with lights, it is simply beautiful. It also looks like stars, and I like the idea of inversion of sky and earth. I am also interested for this project as a light artist in the interplay between light and lack of light, in the metaphorical implications of sight, and when it is limited, or dark, how do we find the light and understanding. Meaning is in our interpretation, which is in formed by our abilities, our access to our five senses, our prejudices, our history, our hopes. Braille are letters seen by touch. When a sighted person reads Braille, they feel raised dots.
This project explores ideas of perspective, of seeking light, of our reliance on habits and our five senses for navigation and understanding of ourselves and of each other. It’s about beauty in the things we don’t understand (such as a sighted person seeing a groundcover of lights in Braille, initially not seeing words or literal meaning, but rather abstracted visual and emotional meeting in the light patterns piercing the dark, stars on the earth). It’s about looking beyond the surface to discover deeper meanings. Interpreting. Honing our senses. To see what’s there when we don’t rely on our first impulse or the buffer of familiarity.
It’s about starting over and learning a new navigation system when all is lost and one must start all over again without the compass they are used to. Stars could be words; words could be stars; sky could be earth; you could be me.
The images below are from Patterns Are For Breaking, a video installation presented at the Portland Winter Light Festival in 2017.Between river and sky are fractals–never-ending patterns, infinitely complex, recurring, similar at varying scales. They are created by repetition of a simple process–complex outcome from repetition of simplicity. Fractals are feedback loops of imagery that manifest in pretty much everything–from our own replicating cells and neurons, to the branching of trees, snowflakes, lightening, river and erosion patterns, to galaxy formation. Because their value is unpredictable, they are chaotic systems. In their manifestation, they are chaos being ordered–or at least re-arranged– into beautiful abstractions. Indeed, fractals are considered the visual images of dynamic systems, the pictures of the Chaos Theory. We are built of memories. We are continually metamorphosized by the never-ending onslaught of change that adult life delivers, that we remember, reinterpret. It could be said that the human experience is the Chaos Theory enacted. We are living the same looping patterns that The Godfathers immortalized: Birth, School, Work, Death, and yet every single one of our experiences that fill this space between land and sky is unique. Our experiences and memories build on themselves to affect who we are, and in this way we are dynamic recursions of intellect and nature, things in our control, out of our control, habits, and patterns. Video feedback produces light beams with a cross-section that is a fractal pattern. Video feedback is where video artistry began, in the 1960s in Greenwich Village. It is old school analog, and we are bringing it forward to the current to discuss and to show in light, this imagery as metaphor for the unique, chaotic, beautiful, unpredictable process of living. The imagery was created with video feedback from two camcorders, mirrors, toys, children’s plastic jewelry, the Willamette River, and the people attending the festival. Patterns are for breaking. Are for exploding into color and shape with the help of light. Are for not knowing how or why things happen but accepting they do, they will. And sometimes it’s beautiful, and sometimes it’s so bright it blinds us, sometimes it hurts, other times it illuminates the dark parts of ourselves, sometimes it’s all we’ve got.