Pieces of Light
2016 - 2017
Permanent public installation commissioned by the City of Kitchener.
Location: Bridgeport Community Centre. 20 Tyson Dr, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.
20' x 34"
Illuminated light panel. Layered photographs from 120mm negatives on transparent vinyl. Back-lit by outdoor LED plexiglass panels installed in the side of the building in a custom light panel.
Light panel built by Brooks Signs (Brantford, Ontario).
A photograph is a piece of light preserved on film. It can also serve as an object that sparks a memory. Our relationships with photographs have changed to include immaterial ones; digital images made of pixels and data. Looking at light as a metaphor for memory, and as an activator of space, time, and storytelling, Pieces of Light seeks to return our emotional connection with photographs to a material relationship with them.
Over a period of 8 months, photographs of the Bridgeport area were collected on film and archived. I began with Bridgeport’s historical footprint - the Grand River, the Bridge on Bridge Street, the Woolwich Street Mill, Kolb Park, Bechtel Park, and Bridgeport’s historical neighbourhoods. On each visit the landscape changed ever so slightly, and Bridgeport became both familiar and new to me all at the same time. I learned of Bridgeport’s history and community through a rough archive of aged photographs, a historical map dating back to 1856, a community quilt, and past community news letters. Studying these records, I quickly found that Bridgeport’s identity is linked to the path of the Grand River. It’s industrial heritage, close knit community, and it’s changing neighbourhoods and landscape contribute to it’s unique identity within the Kitchener-Waterloo region. This is how we often experience the past; through someone else's eyes. Through archives, writings, stories, and pictures from another time. This forms our memory of a place. A kind of unconscious memory. A memory we have developed not from immediate experience but from secondhand accounts. My images of Bridgeport are this kind of memory. They are secondhand memories gleaned from the fragments, holes, and stories of an archived past. They are representations of how the camera experiences a memory and how the materiality of film experiences a place, it’s light, and it’s trace.
Using a combination of multiple exposures on 120mm film, colour filters, a hand made light-box, transparent film, a scanner, and digital imaging, photographs are physically layered and collaged on the surface of a light box, then rephotographed in an effort to piece together my personal experience of walking through the village-scape of Bridgeport. The resultant light panel installation becomes a sensorial representation of Bridgeport’s community rather than a document of its existence. Light is used to construct imagery within the camera, in the post-production process of making the work, and in it’s presentation. This use of light makes reference to photography’s material history - light captured on film, and memory preserved as an object. Resembling a timeline, a roll of film, or a mental map, time and space are extended and stretched across the length of the light panel. Illuminated at night and visible during the day to visitors and the surrounding community, this kaleidoscopic collage of images re-traces my steps through Bridgeport and endeavours to examine our intimate relationships with a place, it’s landscape, it’s history, and a community’s memories of it’s subtle changes over time.
Special thanks to the City of Kitchener Public Art Program, Bridgeport Community Centre, and Brooks Signs for supporting this public art project.