Markers of Time: Aurora + 11:43pm Truck Denali, AK
Following up on my post a few days ago, and a prior conversation
with Christina Seely about her Lux project, a brief interview and some of her new work is featured below.
JB: Did the Lux project lead you to Markers of Time? if yes, how so?
CS: After spending 5 years recording man made light all over the world I realized that I was essentially recording the extension day or a kind of control of time. Before electric light was introduced the sun rising and setting had a real impact on daily life and held different meaning than it does now. The Lux images exhibit the creation of our own sense of time and our inevitable disconnect from natural time and rhythms. There are a few cities in Lux that include the moon in the shot but in each the moon is dominated by the city’s skyglow. This is a kind of metaphor for our relationship to nature, something I mentioned in the Plazm interview about Lux. We’ve built this bright blinding seemingly controllable dome around ourselves that keeps us from connecting beyond and into the natural world.
In 2009 I had the opportunity to break out of that dome and travel on the Bering Sea in Alaska for two and half weeks during the height of summer wildlife migration in 20 hours of daily sunlight. It was honestly life changing. There were literally millions of migrating birds and marine mammals, grizzlies, foxes... all out feeding and breeding up there in this perpetual daylight. I was basically bearing witness to the systems of the planet in a way that is impossible to do or really to understand in my normal city life. At the same time I was learning all about what is being effected by climate change up there from scientists and wildlife guides who were on our trip.
The intense contrast between photographing cities at night for Lux and traveling on the Bering sea led me to think about our various attempts to control time and how this tendency dangerously eradicates our relationship to the planet’s inherent natural rhythms and cycles. By the end of the trip to Alaska I knew I had to come back and make work that would start a dialogue about this.
JB: One of the most compelling things for me about Lux was the way you were able to distill a complex concept into a series of simple, iconic images with the power to enlighten viewers. Markers of Time feels even broader in some ways. are you thinking about the end product, or goal, or simply following a creative impulse?
Species Impact - Arctic Fox
CS: The subject for Markers of Time is a lot broader than what I am talking about in Lux but I am definitely thinking about an end goal with this work.
Climate change is a massively complex topic and the real challenge is to figure out how to get people to connect to it on an individual level. Up in the arctic it’s impacts are obvious and it’s throwing off all these natural rhythms, rythmns that humans once depended on for survival (and some still do!). In most places folks don’t experience and are not effected by any of these changes directly so I am figuring out how to make work that gets people to reflect on the differences between man made and natural time and that visually describes the impact of these changes.
Instead of creating a serial project like Lux, for Markers of Time I am creating singular images or pairs of images that simplify a set of ideas that are complex but related to each other. For example the image diptych of the arctic foxes makes clear that their coat changing timing is now out of synch with new weather patterns and there is a period of time where they are incredibly vulnerable. Their evolutionary adaptability cannot keep up with the rate of change brought on by global warming. The supermoon and flight taking off our of Anchorage airport and the aurora and truck passing diptych looks at the dialogue between man made and natural time. One sense of time is seemingly controllable, the other not at all. To understand this difference is to connect to the bigger picture.
I’d like Markers of Time to encourage folks to think about how they might pay more attention to natural cycles where ever they live in order to become more invested in what happens beyond their manmade controllable environment.
The Lunar Resonant Streetlight project I have been working on as a member of Civil Twilight Collective encourages this same thing in a different and playful way. These streetlights lights dim and brighten in correlation with the moon’s phases so when the moon is full the city can use the moonlight and people actually notice and relate to the lunar cycle.
Markers of Time like Lux and the streetlights are about getting the individual to think about their relationship to both local and global issues. A shift of awareness toward the integration of micro and macro natural cycles into the urban consciousness can be a rewarding way to relate to where and how we live and I think it is essential. The bottom line is whether we can see it or not at home we are all a part of and effected by how the planet is changing so my goal is to create visually exciting work that will draw people in, help them ask questions and take notice.
(Diptych) - Supermoon + 3:02am Flight Anchorage, AK / Aurora + 11:43pm Truck Denali, AK
Labels: christina seely, lux, markers of time