“We view the world once, in childhood. The rest is memory.”
- excerpt from Nostos, a poem by Louise Glück
About my work:
One of the things that draws me to art is the act of placing the profane next to the sacred. The tension that follows can make for great work. For our metaphor, light is the sacred. Human language is at best profane due to its native limitations.
Natural language by its own definition limits our ability to express the full range of experience. Language is a code. To codify something means to limit it, it is to say “A is by definition not B". The code is generated by human minds, and therefore narrow in scope. A good example being the fact that this took me over four years to write.
To me, lighting distills life into hyper-emotive states - a sharper, purer syrup of human experience – and elevates situations to somewhere beyond the abilities of language to describe. You can describe in extreme detail the way the shadows sat lovingly in the wrinkles on your grandfather’s face, or how that sunset in the wilderness lit everything in an inimitable gold. But in the end the description always finishes with the coda: “…but you would have had to have been there to really see it."
I like how lighting is able to touch something lurking, massive and hidden. A tiny corner of the universal condition lit with a flashlight. We’ll never be able see the whole picture. I don’t think seeing the whole picture is the point - that particular task is something I leave to the minds of science. The point is that the action witnessed by the viewer can impart to them a small "truth" that you can carry with you. It’s that the act of living through someone else’s eyes creates space for empathy, pain, experience, and wisdom. By using light to speak directly to the inner consciousness, we can bypass the limitations of language to ask the question we want to ask.
The content of the question is up to the viewer. The phrasing is up to me. Sometimes what I bring to the table doesn’t jive with the viewer’s own experience. It’s a balancing act with a lot of room for failure.
On the stage, I am generally given a list of context clues: the script or choreography (if it exists), the director’s notes, a sonic world, a scenic world, etc. The language in the project is not always a script, but instead the director/choreographer/creator’s thoughts on what the piece means.
Obviously not all projects I work on have all of these things, so the weight of each of them is different on every project. I take all of those context clues and fold them into something that’s simultaneously technical and artistic - color, angle, texture, and intensity are my four most common tools. The process beyond that is not much different from painting. Blocking out general areas of light and shadow, adding color and texture, balancing, sharpening, refining. The end result is a piece of work that will continually evolve and interact with the world around it, never once and again the same.
I find my work to be the most successful when it appears as an extension of the human body and mind onstage.
Below is a selection of my work in order of most recent to least recent. Click on a thumbnail to learn more about each production: