Faraday-Sugimoto Candles (2011)

When I was a kid I saw a television show on the history of holograms. In it they mentioned in passing an idea that stuck in my mind, that a blurry photograph–actually an unfocused photographed–contained all the data that a focused photograph did, just not organized in the same way. That is, each of the photons from the scene entered the lens in each case, they were just aimed differently by the lens. If you knew enough about the lens–and you do–might there not be a way to reverse things, to send those photos back through the lens and then bring them forward again, this time in focus? But even absent such a device, the data was all there, just not in a form easily retrieved.

In a way, these images do the same thing, capturing a steam of data over time about wind conditions at my bedroom window on selected nights. We can know the size and shape of the window and the mesh of the window screen. We can know the length, thickness and type of wax used in the candles, and the thickness of the wick. We can know most everything, reducing all those unknowns to known, leaving behind only the data about the wind, captured in the flickering flame of the candle.

This project took several years to complete. The shooting alone took nine months. In the end I used two cameras, one shooting the candle simultaneously with the other but at a perpendicular angle. My bedroom window crowded first by an 8×10 and a 4×5 camera, along with tripods and other gear. Eventually I used two digital cameras, with the images being overlaid atop one another for the final image.

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