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What does it mean? Just some BS name, huh?

Years ago, during my days at the university, working as teaching assistant, attempting to finish my master's dissertation, it came to me.

Yea, it's a word without any real meaning. To me, it was the very embodiment of what my dissertation was suppose to be all about.

As a photography student, I was looking at ways to make teaching photography more intelligent. My main interest was in light and how it played upon the various bodies and elements of our environment. To me, it was these reflectances and absorptions — from and to those elements which made up the very essence of light, tone and color which became even most importantly the perception of those elements in our minds.

So I came to this verbal experiment of a term - crashinglight.

Crashing has a connotation of sound, or of noise or something that results from a conflict of objects colliding into each other. It was here that I was making this sound a part of the visual experience, the noise of those components of reflectances or absorptions being emitted by the light which provides for us the elements of our sight.

It's not that I was serious about measuring those photons bursting into those leaves of your trees in the backyard and trying to define the noises of that activity as certain energies are absorbed and reflected into your eyes and ultimately perceived in your mind's eyes. While there might eventually be a way of doing something like that, it not something that I was interested in. I was looking for something else.

I was interested in the idea of attaching a certain type of perception to one of our other modes of perceptions. In the history of photography, this was not new. To the photographic gods, Alfred Stieglitz and Minor White, it was an idea that they came to call "equivalents" or the "equivalency" — an idea of denoting a cross-modal experience — meaning a perception that might be felt or understood in another sense.

Stieglitz and White both used their photographic equivalents to either describe a symphony of sound or dance in motion. White found it useful to teach dance as way of getting his ideas of visual imagery to be felt to the degree he saw as necessary to understand his work. For Stieglitz, it was simply a matter of feeling the visual experience in another mode. To White, it was a matter of pushing that feeling to highest degree possible, trying to expand those perceptions to their maximum potential in another sense.

  • What is it or how is it that you feel a certain way or thing, when you look at a visual stimulus?

  • What are the conceptual and linguistic influences that affect our perceptions, that influence our visions?

Whatever they are, they become the foundations for our visual vocabularies — the very equivalencies for our experiences in our lives. It it how we relate one experience to another.

It was from that mind-frak of a discussion that lead to this idea of crashinglight — the experience of light, not just of vision, but of all the senses that can be felt from the experience of seeing or maybe more simply — the experience of just living.

~ James Voight


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