I have long had a fascination with projected light. There is something magical about seeing an image appear out of a beam of light.
I’m not quite sure when that fascination started. Maybe it has its origins in the slide shows (remember those?) that my father used to put on for us as a family. During holidays, he used to take an incredible number of slides. After returning home, there would be the anticipation of waiting for the images to be developed and posted back. I would get excited when I saw the familiar bright yellow envelopes from Kodak in the letter box…but, there would be another wait for my father to edit and curate his light show for us.
Maybe it is also something about the allure of the lights being turned off and seeing the beam of light from the projector, with dust dancing in the illumination, and the first image appearing on the screen or wall as if through some form of alchemy.
This fascination has continued into my adulthood with a series of works which involved me taking photographs of people with their fingerprints projected onto their faces. In a performance piece a few years ago, I used a slide projector as much for the sound of the projector arm taking in another slide as for the visuals.
Since these works and my interest in labyrinths, I have dreamed of creating a labyrinth in light, so that walkers experience the labyrinth on their skin as part of themselves, whilst their bodies also become part of the labyrinth. Artist Jim Buchanan has pioneered the creation of lighted labyrinths. I was sad to miss this in February this year – ‘Labyrinth Illuminaire‘ as part of ‘Spectra’, Aberdeen’s festival of light.
As a small step towards this dream, I have created in EL (electro-luminescent) wire the matryoshka image I’ve been working with for this exhibition. I finished stitching it last night and, seeing the completed image lit for the first time, I sensed that same fascination with the lighted image that I had experienced as a child. This is a section of the unlit figure – the lit image is at the top of this post.
I always think the back of something should be as beautiful as the front – it’s like a hint of what is on the other side – the traces and marks left behind by an image. These are the back of the stitches in fishing line holding the EL wire invisibly (when lit) in place.