The project began as a way to understand the dislocating effect of viewing anonymous 1920's crime scene photographs from the NYC Municipal archives. Devoid of context, these records invite speculation and transference. Connections between victim, perpetrator, detective, and witness are lost, with no possible resolution. The desire to avoid a similar fate fuels the urge to interpret these images of violence. Each grisly detail was recorded with mechanical precision, but no secrets are divulged, turning proof into spectacle and back again.
The installation and performance of BlackStar is a collaboration with video / performance artist Mikaela Raquel Williams. The exhibition includes an amalgam of constructed scenes, projections, light boxes, and performances. The title is in reference to the forensic chemical BlueStar, and the theory of the existence of massive black stars, an alternative explanation to previous theories about black holes.
The blue light in many images is a product of exposing photographic materials to bioluminescent organisms in seawater, which light up when agitated and die rapidly on contact with film. The brief, final flashes of these creatures are permanently recorded: creating an aura remincient of spirit photography. This process serves a similar function to crime scene photographs- a final record of life extinguished. Other substances, including baking soda, were also used to dissolve the film emulsion and physically simulate the erosion of evidence and memory over time.
A working magic lantern for the exhibition, as well as consultation and research into historic projection techniques was provided by art historian, Shanna Goodwin. BlackStar was originally shown at the Venture Compound in 2015.