I’m in Austin for a brief weekend to attend a wedding and recharge my sorely depleted reserves. I die a little bit each time I leave Texas, but that’s for a different kind of blog entry in a different kind of blog. Anyway, the wedding was at a country club near Georgetown, and it was nice and dark out there, with fireflies flitting in and out of the gnarled live oak branches. Never mind the ridiculous green grass lawn in a countryside that was never meant for more than parched scrub and weathered limestone. I was waiting out the festivities and picked up a National Geographic, where I was struck by this image:
Faithful readers may remember my desire to experiment with lightwriting, here:
This photo of a “Indiana Harbor Belt R.R. switchman demonstrating signal with a fusee, used at twilight and dawn when visibility is poor” was taken in 1943, and found on Shorpy.com. Click on it to view the incredible beauty of the full size.
These traces of light are so evocative and so ephemeral–as anyone who ran around with a sparkler and traced their name into the sky could attest. Urban lightwriting first appeared on my radar from my interest in graffiti and placemaking, a subject I touched on briefly in previous posts (and in a few papers).
It seems that there is now an open source instrument for live performance drawing and animation called Tagtool that I am trying my best to spec out for this summer for some live, night-time annotation of a certain Neolithic mound.
Being able to lightwrite what once was on top of what is could be a fascinating opportunity for interpretation and performance in archaeology. I’ll reiterate something I’ve been saying for a while: