Excerpt from “Listening to Light: Katherine Bash and Observational Displacement”
— by William L. Fox.
“As with light, so with wind, those movements of air created by differential heating of the Earth’s surface, which in turn generate areas of higher and lower atmospheric pres- sure between which the wind flows. We only perceive wind when we can sense it moving something else: the sight of dust, the sound of leaves, pressure on our clothing, the smell of chemical molecules from baking bread. The physical world is never the same from moment to moment, in large part because the light changes and the wind is literally shaping the land and everything on it all around us all the time. The first recorded example of observed cause-and-effect was, in fact, made by the Greek philosopher Anaximander in the fourth century B.C., who described wind as arising from what he observed to be the interaction of water vapor and sunlight.
Bash seeks out and then documents phenomena such as how sunlight break- ing through a matrix of leaves creates multiple cameras obscura, which project the intact, round images of the sun on the ground beneath the trees regardless of the shape of the openings in the latticework. It’s even better for her purposes if the leaves are moving in the air and the images dance for us in a video of the moment, an activation of the two forces commingling their effects.
The thing about light and wind is that it is possible to plot the course of each, but not to predict exactly where they will end up or what their effects will be. Not only do we perturb them with observation, but their interactions with each other and the world are simply too damned complicated. In order to witness their effects upon one another it is more efficient to use the formulae of art and poetry than mathematics. Bash’s instruments, therefore, are not limited to pivoting chairs, rotating cameras, mirrors, and the dozens of other tools she deploys. Her most versatile instrument is language, the ultimate human instrument.”