We are excited about your upcoming exhibition entitled “Search/Light”! Consisting of 17 photographs shot over a period of five successive nights, this is your first new series in two years. Give us some insight into its conceptualization and the meaning behind this intriguing string of works.
The starting point of the Search/light series was a singular impression. I was standing on the shore of an island. There was no moon in the sky and the sea was calm and quiet. Then, a strong beam of light appeared, as if from nowhere. It shot out towards the horizon, piercing the darkness, then swept across the surface of the sea. You could tell the movements of the light was being manually controlled by someone out of view. After a short while, it switched off and the night was returned to inky darkness. The event left a strong visual and visceral impression.
It had been a long time since I had made work, which was weighing on me. I knew I needed to try and shoot this. From there, it is all about the process. Experimentation, feeling out the boundaries of the idea, the rules of the series. Very early on, I decided on the position of the horizon within the frame. Then I experimented with position relative to the source of the light. Fixing the rules, then exploring how far these rules can be pushed. Some rules can be pushed and broken, yet still stay true to the series. Others cannot. When I pushed too far, I felt the process sort of crack and break, and the series was done.
The central rule of this series that I broke was not to intervene with the control of the lights. There was a rhythm of darkness and light. A long 30 minute darkness, followed by a short fleeting period of light of maybe 30 seconds. There were several search light stations around the island, perhaps 15. They all followed this rhythm. I followed the rhythm. The dark periods to think, plan, move, position and wait. The periods of light were about mad shooting.
On the fifth night, a security guard saw me shooting on a dock. After some explanation, he asked me if I wanted him to radio the searchlight tower, to put the light where I wanted it. I sort of felt like I shouldn't, but I thought, why not? Then, crack. The spell was broken, the series was done.