Who needs the sun?
The dappling of sunlight through the branches of trees plays on pavement with incredible beauty. The shifting leaves shift light and the ground brightens and shadows with each rustle like the ambient waves of a gentle lake reflecting a midday sun.
Coming out of photography, artist Anthony Pearson here etches plaster to mimic the play of light. He used to solarize photopaper and sometimes cast bronzes out of that. All very process oriented, swirling and tweaking the formal results of a series of inversions and alchemies, moving light like here into weird new substances.
A particle and a ray, the play of light across a surface, bounced or absorbed. Each beam radiates and carves, a liquid flow, a light etching stone like a river smooths away rough rocks into softly curved spheres, folding earth into grand canyons, and twisting with tides continents into new shapes. If only light could crumble mountains like the million year wash of a river. The touch of light, warmth we can feel, but can it touch you beyond heat, can the blind tell you if it’s day or night?
If light could touch, like it can light-sensitive paper, solarizing and haloing into scattered patterns, like the sightless tree that bends toward its nourishment, what patterns would it make into materials normally blind? What designs could it warp and weft? Like a photograph, could the light be frozen, or at least slowed? (We often forget that the photo fade is just chemistry completing the destiny only delayed by fixative.)
Anthony Pearson, Untitled (Etched Plaster), 2014, (alternate view) pigmented hydrocal in walnut frame, 24.5 x 18.5 x 2 inches; Courtesy of the Artist and David Kordansky Gallery
So it’s obvious that photographer translates into our common tongue as ‘light-writer.’ We assume a camera of one kind of another. Photogrammers cut out the middle man to transfer light right onto that paper whose chemistry marks the passage, but if we even remove the paper, can we imagine the pattern of light? Can we follow with our hands the dapples and rays, the steams and gleams, the glows and glares? Maybe. Maybe. Prism the light through a hand and it can carve plaster, rippling across its surface like that midday sun across a summer lake.
[Image on top: Anthony Pearson, Untitled (Etched Plaster) (detail), 2014, hydrocal in walnut frame, 24.5 x 18.5 x 2 inches; Courtesy of the Artist and David Kordansky Gallery.]