Available Light

Reviewed by Jaye Fishel 

“If light is images, and shadows are blocking light, in some sense shadows are really blocking images and that does lead to some nice surprises.”
Bob Miller, Light Walk – Exploratorium, 1982


Come in through the dark. Imagine if we could remember being born: the immediate shock of light. This question is even borderline too trite for me to ponder. But that an image from a book can evoke this question with enough evocation of pure curiosity, it must be a wonder.
Available Light offers images of images of the world reflected through the magic of a lens arranged in a dark room: camera obscura. True to it’s title, the images from five different international camera obscura installations present the projected image of the world outside in it’s ever-shifting iteration based on the angle of the sun–sometimes fuzzy, sometimes minimal and dim, sometimes brilliant.
Always upside down.
It’s a bit like surveillance or even more darkly, like a simulation of reality. In this room with the outside on the inside, we’re out of place. Our outside visual is splayed over architectural nuances, pipes and beams and arched doorways, it wraps like text in a newspaper.
photo 4
Maybe outsiderness is insiderness. Maybe we are to question our value systems. Maybe it behooves us all to look at the world around us without being implicated in it–almost impossible to accomplish for the conscientious amongst us. What if we get a quiet room to be outside inside upside down. Maybe all the displacement helps us actually be in the world around us.
photo 1
 “They deal with the impossibility of depicting real reality” —The Third Photography, Diedrich Diederichsen
Heliocentrism gives way for our current astrological leanings: “what’s your sign?” means what is your sun sign. Focus on the light from the sun, it’s lessons and leanings guide us the most.
Full bleed photographic spreads are something to delight in but more telling and evocative are smaller grids of iPhone photos taken by Leonard, whereas the rest are taken ostensibly by professional art photographers. Dancing sun juts around the room, digging a brilliant portal in the wall. A glimpse at what the artist wants us to see–sunshine moves, we stand still.

“Is this sculpture, is this activism. Is it poetry. Oui. Cause Purgatory must exist in our time in a grey space where the meanings are unclear, except for the fact that we have incremental amounts of time and we are spending some of it inside now and together.”
Needleshine, Eileen Myles
Zoe Leonard, Available Light. Dancing Foxes/Ridinghouse: 2014. With texts by  Diedrich Diederichsen, Eileen Myles, Suzanne Hudson, & Glenn Ligon