Monday, April 11, 2011

SHADOW FRAMING: a collaborative installation

We've just mapped our interacting shadows with chalk frames on the sidewalks of Bonisteel outside the Art & Architecture Building. Our framing projects were also represented on the sidewalk with chalk frames interacting with chalk outlines of branch shadows. Obstructions to light, objects that block light, objects that block light that are opaque, are not conduits through which light passes, and so forth, can cast shadows, flat silhouettes of the light-stopping object system. Shadows are outcomes of interactions involving opaque objects and light. The shadow seen is the two-dimensional of obstruction, the flat architecture of blockage.

These chalk frames of shadows mark where shadows were. Where light was blocked.

They also mark time as shadow length changes throughout the day; every moment has its own set of shadows. The same shadow is not moving; instead, the shadow clock is moving, each moment projecting its own time signature with a silhouette wherever an object blocks the projection.

We produced chalk memories of interactions with light.

Short-lived chalk memories prepared to fade in a number of interactions with shoes, bicycle tires, rain, perhaps even some late March and/or early April snow. A fading away or washing away eventually to nothing? to forms of residue so diluted, the residue will be like nothing, yet not quite nothing in an infinite dissipation or will there ultimately be absolute erasure? no lasting remnant (on even the tiniest scale), no successful modification of even the most insignificant component of a molecule, an atom, a subatomic particle? Did not chalk dust become part of air, will not something of that dust settle somewhere that won't be exactly where the chalk dust was launched? (an idea of it obviously is landing in my brain, chalk dust spores that perhaps will be fertilized by something in my mind, then will sprout, grow, drive me into chalk frenzy and [further] obsession)

—the bonding of chalk and sidewalk has been superficial: the bottom surface of the chalk line in direct contact with the top surface of concrete, the line perhaps thicker when there's imperfection in the concrete, little dips and cracks that the chalk fills. Occasionally, chalk misses concrete altogether as the bottom surface of the chalk line makes direct contact with a leaf or other debris whose bottom surface is in contact with the top uneven surface of concrete. There is no unassisted observable evidence that chalk penetrates the surfaces on which mark-making occurs. There is discoloration of the chalk as it's used; something of the surface being marked alters the color; some particles evidently adhere to the stick of chalk. The chalk visibly dwindles. It shrinks as it's used. Each mark is subtracted from the stick of chalk. Not all of the chalk reduction goes to mark-making on uneven concrete surfaces; some of the chalk marks the fingers holding it in the act of mark-making on uneven concrete surfaces on Bonisteel. And it appears that something of Bonisteel is transferred to the chalk; the tip becomes sooty-looking in the exchange, but the sidewalk does not seem to dwindle.

We've made temporary documentation only. Left on Bonisteels's sidewalk for a few days was acknowledgment of purpose other than a lasting mark. As if we're being respectful of other marking that will happen, is happening behind me, right outside six connected windows looking out on Bonisteel.

With a lamppost near the chalk frames of the shadows of five female artists, I'm attempting documentation of a shadow array, progression of the shadow projection over time, using five colors of chalk to mark shadow progression time lines; four such time lines represent some of the progression of the lamppost shadow during forty-five minutes of chalk mapping.

I further framed what we accomplished with a couple of geotagging apps on my phone, while delighting in the way shadows of branches filled the outlines of our shadows (five female artists) with a capillary system.

Our efforts today may not qualify us for the pavement art competition, pictured here, on Bold street in Liverpool, but we join others in finding pleasure, purpose, and necessity in temporary mark making, perhaps some of which was occurring elsewhere as we made chalk marks here on Bonisteel.

While we have no proof of art, we do have proof of having made chalk marks that approximated locations of shadows, approximated because the outlines drawn deviated in varying degrees from tracing the outlines of the shadows exactly. The shadow tracing was imprecise yet provided the only temporary documentation of silhouette shape and size at a particular time on a particular day.

The shadow collection mentioned here is no longer available for visitation on the Bonisteel sidewalk. Installed on a Monday, updated on the following Tuesday and Wednesday, gone during the transition from Friday twilight to Monday daybreak, erased by rain. I'd hoped to capture this erasure on film, but I was not present. The shadow marking project will continue, with black chalk, at least until I am able to capture erasure by rain. I also plan some moonlit capture and moonlit marking.

In the recent past I've captured shadows resulting from obstructions of interactions of moonlight and of artificial light from other lampposts on Bonisteel, across the street from my current lamppost preference: forking silhouettes of Duderstadt Center trees, as shown on the left. Though at that time, I felt compelled to capture, I was not then primed to mark and map beyond marking and mapping the image into multiple systems of memory: an SD card, an external hard drive that warehouses 407GB of images I've captured, and my limited forked mind.

Ellis G is a Brooklyn-based street artist specializing in drawing shadows. In the following video, he discusses process and permits a glimpse into his practice:

Our shadow project collaboration with time certainly is an experiment, but an experiment of mostly, it must seem, an aesthetic nature though the project offers commentary on brevity and acknowledges that humanity is an obstruction to light: we cast dark shadows. We block illumination. Ellis G also is a chalk artist whose work, like ours, is on the furthest fringe of social intervention at best. Perhaps in some almost incidental way (at least at first), our tracing impermanent shadows calls to attention the power required to create permanent shadows, situations where the source of the shadow perishes, but the shadow, like those above from pegasus.phys.saga, formed under tremendous and unusual circumstances persists, burned into the host of the shadow, for instance, during atomic bomb blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These shadows do not mark passage of time, but lock into one moment, extends that moment where light, heat are of such magnitude to burn a silhouette into surfaces in a three-dimensional photographic album of nuclear disaster and nuclear power when the power of a sun comes close enough to embrace us, life depends on thermonuclear star engines at just the right distance, to warm and illuminate, without burning.

No comments:

Post a Comment