I am often intrigued by the diffusion of light created by a curtain. It doesn’t quite hide nor reveal. It suggests a behind, a maybe – hints at something else. It becomes a canvas, turning orange, pink in bright sunlight like our eyelids would. It holds shapes and shadows with a softness and care no window can pretend to. It holds, it carries without fully absorbing, without fully letting go either. It keeps some light for themselves and offers us a muted translation of what we can not see, of what we can not reach. The curtain is an interpret to the outside world. A language we are not always familiar with.
Then suddenly it starts moving, pushed by the air going through the window it’s been hiding this whole time. At times gracious, at times furious like a fish caught in a net, like we did something wrong. Light appears and disappears on the wooden floor in bold shapes – rectangles and triangles screaming for visibility. The curtain was a mediator between the harsh and the soft, between the loud and my afternoon. It gave up, is now allowing sharp contrast on the ground. It is dancing with the wind. It becomes the sail to your boat, the rope to your swing that goes soft when it loses traction. And like you do with the waves coming at you, you try to anticipate its movement, to find the wind’s rhythm in the fabric, to locate regularity. But there is none really, no logic, no repetition. An ignored metronome in a sea of noise.
The wind is invisible yet makes everything move, it is intangible yet makes everything feel. It is in the branches of the tree, on the surface of the water, in your hair, on your ankles. It turns curtains into kites and oceans into fury. It brings light by moving the clouds, noise by moving the fence, confidence by moving your thoughts. Isn’t it the most amount of power one could have, only being seen by how you affect your surroundings? It wins over gravity, and it wins over my heart.
Forest of Light
There is something about the blur in our eyes that makes us doubt structures and textures. Shapes and patterns. Forms. Lines. Silhouettes. We carry a softness below our eyelids and cannot tell the positive from the negative space – we see the likeness but not the like. It’s a game of guessing.
“I know about the lie, I know about the light”.
I see a forest of sun. It is liquid at times, solid others. And I may point in its direction all I want, I cannot quite put my finger on it: is this a memory, or is this a tree? The light reaches me, but I can’t touch it back, I can only feel the bark, the moss. I want to touch the void, the bright, I want to reciprocate the heat. Empty corridor for sunrays to travel through, paths of nothing for the light to walk on. To pass by.
There is something about the blur in our eyes that makes us doubt distance. We carry an uncertainty below our eyelids. A load of poetry, a burden of what ifs and hold on there, wait a second. What if we contemplated the reverse, the backwards, the never considered. What if I was standing in a pool of sunlight with branches peeking through? My eyelashes in the way of vision, as tall as those trees. They are their own forest of perhaps. What if we ignored the depth of field, let our gaze grow heavy. What if we welcomed the blur, the soft, embraced the doubt. All that is left would be columns of light – monuments.
The fog this morning feels like the sheet over your head twenty years ago
You cannot see the corner of the street, the beginning of the sidewalk, your hand in front of your face. The morning fog feels like a sheet over your head. At first, it seems very light, floating linen, hovering just about, held up high by your short arms. Your own little cocoon, a tent holding on to your elbows, to your star shaped fingers. You are eight years old.
You’re seeing with your hands, your eyes could be closed for all you know, this sheet is your eyelid. Soft light and fabric around your tentacular self, you rely on the tactile.
But your arms start aching so you let the sheet rest on your head. It’s falling on all sides of you, draping your entire body, resting at its extremities on the yellow carpet. You become an island at the heart of your bedroom, a rock in the middle of the ocean, a bird’s nest.
You feel the warmth of your breath trapped in there with you. All is soft, all is muted – there are no shadows today. Everything that you see is only what it is, not multiplied through a projected sun, not distorted by plays of light. The clouds are low today, and you find yourself feeling as foggy as your surroundings – a little numb, a little quiet. As if you were the first one up after it had snowed all over the city. A witness to the weighted cotton. As you’re looking for some clarity, using your hands as a compass, you get hit by that sudden worry: where did the sun go?
The Floating Window
This game is about waiting. It is about opening the door slowly to peek in. As if you were looking next door to see if the person who was sitting there is still in the room, they’re being awfully quiet. Cheekily opening the oven to see if the bread is rising.
It is a balance of time – checking often enough not to miss the crucial moment, but not too often either, you don’t want to spoil the satisfaction of having gotten it right. The person who guesses that it is 12:31 a few minutes after looking at their watch doesn’t deserve the glory of the win – they don’t get the medal of exactitude, they played it safe.
You are checking on the Sun: waiting for the moment the light projected from the kitchen window will be mirrored perfectly on the wall facing it. Four little squares of sunshine reproduced at the same scale, at the same height, at a distance. Four little squares whose horizontal lines are parallel to those of the ceiling, of the floor, of the boards – you’ve studied them all. You know the lines living in your kitchen. And the vertical lines parallel to those of the side walls, of the door frame, of the flank of your body. When the timing’s just right, the door aligns softly with those vertical lines. A caress, a suggestion.
Four little squares that have been moving around yet together, finding refuge in the linear, a straight itinerary for a second perhaps, a rest. Then on they go, to continue their second-hand revolution. But it’s okay, you’ve seen them rest here over the counter, you were there, you checked on them.
You are the benevolent witness of heat moving, of light pausing, of surfaces hosting. You are the holder of moments, of the kitchen clock, of the mundane. You are the bystander, the observer, the spectator. You are the silent watcher of the floating window. You are the keeper of secrets.
Tights and Tiles
My little legs in wool tights with silver glitter stars emerging every few centimeters, little mountains of dust under my fingers. I am sitting on the floor, terracotta tiles of hexagonal shapes, repeating each other, bordering each other. Faces as points of contact and rupture. Overwhelming symmetry.
I am waiting. For the evening to come, for the friends to arrive. For then to be now.
The light coming from the corridor window creates shapes and shimmers on the floor that I try to mimic with my legs. I sit here, matching the rays of light projected on the ground with the ones heating my legs, watching time move physically. My body as a surface, a receptacle, the final destination in those lines’ itinerary. Contorting myself to the whims of the Sun, I realize I absorb their travel.
Long minutes lasting afternoons, the brightness trapped smaller and smaller between my thighs. Maybe if I capture it all, squeeze it hard, hide it with my small hands, the light will shrink and so will the day. The guests will come. And soon it will be dark, my legs closed together on the cold ceramic – in the boredom of other games, I will be waiting for tomorrow, for the light to come shine in the corridor of time.
The Shaded Part of Your Body
This one’s an obvious one. It feels like studio lighting 101, when we’re taught distance, Rembrandt and butterflies. It also feels like intimacy 101, getting to know someone’s body long enough that we’ve seen it under all possible lighting. Long enough that the sun has hit all the surface of their skin, across their torso, across mornings and midday naps. From one shoulder to the other. We find textures accentuated at different places, at different moments. I name them all. The creases and the curves, and all of your side body left dramatic in a contrasting shadow. You become the moon, a field for motocross, sand dunes. I harvest the sun in the hollow part of your hip, cave of flesh filled with light.
Do you only exist under the spotlight? What about the shady half of your body? The hidden, the discarded, the less worthy of sun cast and light shed.
I know you now that I’ve seen your traits made severe in an afternoon of long shadows. I know you now that your back has been sun smoothed under this window and under my hands.
The Ceiling Corner
Looking up, head floating down from the sofa, gathering blood. I am analyzing every detail of the ceiling. What if there was no gravity? I could walk along this vast empty space, climb up the door frame to go into the other room. Maybe once I’m done staring down at the sky from the window sill, I’d look up to a ceiling full of carpets and legos. I’d count them like we do the stars, the sheep, the seconds between now and then.
I remember looking at colors. The ceiling was painted white, yet when focusing on the ceiling corner, the three panels intersecting were all different shades of confusion: one of them was blue, one yellow and the other purple. And depending on the time of day, these colors would shift panels, vary in intensity. I’d try to watch their dance, to catch them fluctuate, to fix them in space and shade. Yet no matter how intensely I’d look at them, they would still change color without my noticing the transition. Seamless advancements, under my attentive surveillance. I’d feel betrayed, as if they were all lying to me. If I cannot trust color, then what can I trust?
Though I learned to find comfort in the indecisive ceiling corner, and would stare at it often. Years later, when my parents told me we were moving to Canada, I remember thinking “but where will I watch the colors change their mind?”.
I found many ceiling corners since, many panels of uncertainty, many shelters in the impermanent. I found reliability in the unstable, an anchor in the everchanging.
IMAGE TO COME!
The swimming pool
A swimming pool is a window, a screen, a mirror. It allows seeing through and seeing above. Cruising clouds and imagined sea monsters. It transmits and reflects. Our legs detached from our body as we walk down the first steps remind us that it refracts too.
Some basins are made of ceramic tiles, shades of white and blue alternating, wraparound frescoes. Small squares making up lines, staggered mosaic, it is art for the submerged.
I remember patterns made of hard lines and of running ones. Strong sun over skin and surface, giving scales to the fish that don’t live here. Shimmers of light on the water – rays of sun laying, more floating than they are bathing. We get an impression of movement yet the water stays still, blinding us, hypnotizing us. A mermaid.
We blur our eyes in this passivity, and all this depth of transparent layers becomes its own image, a two-dimensional surface. It is a new pattern for a swimming pool, made of lines that have lost their way. Straight ceramic motifs bent by the sun, they are the secret that lies at the bottom of the garden. They are the runaways from an expected world, they are the glistening lie. Come, we’ll go look at the pool of illusions.
IMAGE TO COME!
You are standing in the middle of the river, solid as a rock. Both feet are holding strong, your rainboots act as borders between the water and your flesh. With rubber as a frontier, you can feel the cold and the current, the pressure of the mass, the flow of time that rushes down. You can feel it all yet your feet are dry.
A second of inadvertence and you lose balance, your arms as airplanes, you are a sight for the amused. It could have taken you but you are still standing. The rock that rolls down doesn’t gather moss, you are as vulnerable as a lost leaf.
When looking at the water, you see both the sky and the deep under. The silhouette of a tree shows you the bottom of the creek, the sand, the life, all the secrets that lie low. And in between those obstructions, the water surface becomes a mirror for some narcissistic cloud. Following its example, you try to look at your reflection, to find your position. Yet all you see is what you’re hiding – the sedimentary. It is by obstructing that you reveal, just like those branches offer us a glimpse of what sleeps beneath.
The water rushing moves your silhouette, you are a portrait made of running shade. Unsteady, you get overwhelmed by this pattern of impermanence, your legs are starting to wobble. How strong are those rocks, standing still, unbothered by all that hurries, by the whole world precipitating around them.
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The Bored Child: Playful Interactions with Light, 2021. 3D printed sculptures in wood filament, recyclable plastic, ceramics.