Saturday, November 13, 2010

a short history of light

when she was a small child she could be a horse trotting or galloping around her front yard, as well as a cowboy tracking an indian, and then an indian tracking the cowboy. an uncle told her that salt on a bird's tail was the way to catch these mysterious creatures, so she ran into the woods shaking salt traps toward oblivious birds. on warm summer nights in north carolina, neighbors played no bears out tonight, a practice of hiding and finding. a few years later she became a girl detective. combing her neighborhood for clues to unknown cases, she laid out the feathers, rubber bands and scraps of paper from which a secret narrative appeared.

the most important book of her undergrad years was antonin artaud’s the theatre and its double; here she read that theater, her first art love, must signal through the flames. then she was hooked by the platonic image of reflections dancing on a wall—our only view of a reality too hot to touch and too bright to see. what she saw is that all art and interpretation of art was a RE-presentation, aimed from a source that was never quite visible but became, and continues to be, the most compelling conductor of her life.

in grad school jean baudrillard’s musing, that copies replace lost sources so that we live in a reality of copies, ushered her past walter benjamin’s 1936 essay, “the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction.” in baudrillard's writing, she had found a gate into the virtual fields of technology, where anything we can imagine may play in the light of a planetary screen.

gradually she understood that her hiding and finding were in pursuit of light itself. a few years ago she disappeared, softly dispersing into a light visible only to herself. i have not seen her since--or maybe i have in the scattered fragments of everyday things onscreen and off.

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