Wavepool – One thing that jumps out at me in your statement for Afterglow on your website is the mention of terms that inform the work, specifically heat, density, mass, and time. Time is always part of the photographic conversation, but the others don’t feel as traditional to that vocabulary. How have those concepts entered your practice?
Jaclyn Wright – All of the images in Afterglow came out of an installation that I made with images appropriated from NASA and other sources that I then scanned, cut up, rearranged, and photographed. The images that I chose to appropriate all have to do with really massive and/or energetic but not very well understood phenomena such as super massive black holes and gamma ray bursts and how scientists detect and measure these phenomena. It’s interesting because while these phenomena are either really massive or bright we can only infer their existence from things like gravitational lensing, in the case of super massive black holes, and in the case of gamma ray bursts we’re unable to observe the initial burst, we can only infer its occurrence from its afterglow. I was interested in trying to create an installation that paralleled these phenomena in terms of the extremeness of their properties (heat, density, mass) and create something that generated its own afterglow – a trace of the installation whose sum was greater than its individual parts. The specific ways in which these properties manifest themselves in the work are metaphorical but I was interested in using a high density of images and thinking of some images as having greater mass than others, i.e. they would attract other images to themselves. In the editing process we (myself and Everything is Collective) used this metaphorical system of measurement to inform the way we sequenced and designed the book.
Wavepool – To clarify, was the installation a separate iteration of the work or did it only exist as a subject for the imagery? Was a book always the goal?
Jaclyn Wright – I was commissioned by Everything is Collective to create work specifically for the book format. Our collaboration was an experiment of sorts, we gave ourselves a timeline of 3 months – from my research to creating the installation to making images and finally to editing, sequencing, and publishing. So, the installation was created to exist as the subject for the imagery but not only to exist as the subject. I view the installation as a separate iteration, the first of three – followed by the book and then a video. The video piece (a non-traditional take on a flip-through) was created not only to showcase the work but to be viewed as a separate version of the book, a further fragmentation of the subject. Moving forward with the work I plan to bring it back into an installation but as a fourth iteration which would only vaguely resemble its progenitor.
Wavepool – As you continue to fragment the subject, do you see the work changing in any big ways?
Jaclyn Wright – Yeah, I think the deconstruction of the subject changes the ways the visual information can be read. As the images become increasingly less recognizable (from their original) and are fragmented to the point of obliteration I think a significant transformation is likely. I don’t know that I would be interested in continuing the process if that wasn’t a possibility.
Wavepool – As the work continues evolving, I’m curious to see what kind of visual relationship it maintains with traditional interpretations of space. I’m especially thinking about the idea of obliteration and am wondering if that will eventually result in the formation of a new aesthetic that departs from images we might typically associate with space, if that makes sense. Do you think there is ever a point of too much abstraction?
Jaclyn Wright – The very notion that Afterglow could reach a point of obliteration is especially of interest to me. Currently, the work is full of representational imagery – both sourced and created – that is not meant to remain a pure iteration of the subject but rather a version of itself. As the imagery continues to be transformed it will inevitably become less representational or less “pure.” I agree that the images will visibly disassociate from traditional images of space. Perhaps this point of departure is when the work will become so abstract that it will visually disconnect itself from the content. But I don’t think that this equates to too much abstraction – in fact, this hypothetical moment is quite alluring. Creating multiple iterations of the work and pushing the images to a point where they collapse and/or shatter our visual understanding of space is when, I feel, the metaphor comes full circle. My conceptual interest lies in the idea that a body of work could exhaust all possibilities by way of reexamination and thus remove our visual connection and, in some ways, return the work to its initial purpose which was to vaguely reveal a trace of its originator.
Wavepool – Have you had any good conversations about the work with people who come from scientific backgrounds rather than art backgrounds?
Jaclyn Wright – Yes! When the book was released at LA Art Book Fair we (both myself and the members of Everything is Collective) had many conversations with individuals who approached the work from a scientific background. It was very insightful to discuss the project from a non-art perspective. I’ve also been talking with my brother, who has one of his degrees in physics, and it’s been fun to have a more candid dialogue about the project. I am hoping to expand the conversation though – ideally, I’d like to put together a panel discussion regarding the intersects of art and science specifically as it relates to the book and invite a physicist who specializes in the visualization of cosmological phenomena to participate.
Wavepool – Outside of producing the book with EIC, it seems like there could be a lot of other opportunities for collaboration within the work. Do you envision any kind of reciprocal play taking place between you and a physicist while making images, for example?
Jaclyn Wright – I am definitely interested in pursuing other collaborative approaches within the work. I’m currently taking steps to move the work out of the book and bring it back into physical space – the first step being a complete dismantling of the book itself. During this process I plan to begin a collaboration with individuals who have a background in science and philosophy, asking that they do the same. Upon their deconstruction, they will be asked to re-orient themselves to the work and provide visuals – I plan to do the same. My hope is that this will inform the process in creating a new installation series with sculptural components. This new iteration or transformation of the work will create a space that could not have existed without the creation of the book and the inference drawn from it.
To see more, please visit Jaclyn’s website.