Slow Light (2012-present) is a series of photographs addressing the phenomenon of afterimages – the physiological process that results in an image continuing to appear in the eyes after looking at the sun or at bright objects in the dark. This replication occurs through the development of custom-built cameras and artificial retinas that register the remains of light.
Afterimages have a transgressive quality that appeals to me. They appear most strikingly when we use our eyes in ways that we shouldn’t—by staring at something too bright or holding our gaze for too long. When I moved to Louisiana, I was struck by the appearance of oil refineries at night; they looked like strange forbidden cities starting fires in the sky. Soon after I began to photograph them, I was stopped by local police and told that I was not allowed to photograph these structures according to post-9/11 regulations. This experience heightened my interest in these sites as subjects for my work with afterimaging. Keeping a low-profile, I undertook a long-term project documenting petrochemical refineries in the Gulf South. My photographic afterimaging process renders the man-made landscape of the fossil fuel industry as ghostly and vanishing, an unearthly forbidden city that should be perceived as a relic of our destructive past. Using aesthetics as an access point into complex environmental issues, this work presents the petrochemical refineries in this region as magnificent relics of our misguided past to point to the unsustainability of this exploitative industry.