In The Gathering Light

     The tungsten glow from a kitchen window spills into the yard outside, taking only a nanosecond to travel the distance from the white, painted windowsill to the lawn chairs, yet even in this small leap its intensity dissipates at a calculable rate of Distance x 2 = ¼ I. Reflected rays from the moon take only seconds to reach Earth, diverted from their eight-minute journey from the sun. Venus, Mars, Jupiter—these heavenly features emit none of their own light but simply reflect our sun’s radiant energy, taking minutes or even hours to bridge the gap from A to B and finally into our tired eyes at C, all the while dissipating at the same predictable rate.

     Each of these elements is, in the grander scheme, its own star in a universe of pre-synched strobes whose bursts reach us in the same 1/30th of a second it takes our eyes to collect light; as the light from distant galaxies arrives after journeying centuries to reach my camera, bringing evidence of stars that may no longer exist, the soft luminescence of a child’s glow stick simultaneously leaves its own imprint among the scattered halides of my film.

     In this confluence comes the imagery of night. Unlike the time-worn cliché about the gathering dark, within the greater scope of night exists a gathering of light—not of a simple entity, as by day when the sun floods all, but from a complex matrix of contributors, a tableau of electromagnetic energies converging upon a series of dimensional intersections throughout the course of my timed exposures.

     Our experience in this nocturnal diorama is typically lived out in the shelter of our cars, like rolling terrariums that see us through from one lighted place to another. Unseen from our lighted sanctuaries is a bustling emptiness, a parley of silent collaborators captured not within a stilled moment, but within an ongoing dialog of expansive moments that are ultimately unmoving due to the compression of four dimensions into two; a transparent sentence, stacked letter upon letter, viewed from the end where single letters are rarely discernible, as the whole exists as a flattened file, a fixed palate of the visible spectrum, invisible to eyes that see in real time.

     Facts blur, memories fade or amplify, and perceptions skew what few givens there are. So within the precept of “seeing is believing,” only the belief is real. This assumption we call sight is the sole illusion more seductive than photography itself, as actual objects, places, and people are not seen in a defensible sense, but are merely perceived through reflected wavelengths of light that our eyes recognize as patterns representing familiar faces and locations.

     Younger readers of older thinkers like to believe time is an invention, but it is not: only our domestication of it is. In that, the results of my exploration of lighted spaces through these lengthy exposures are these images, contained in them a mere insinuation of the uncertainty lurking beyond the edge of decipherable light. Their commentary is as amorphous as each element’s contribution to the final tableau, as these images exist only as evidence of my ventures into available darkness, of many nights spent making pictures in the gathering light.