This installation forms part of my project, ‘Prosthetic Memory: The Starlight Archives”. It deals with a house which has been... Read More
This installation forms part of my project, ‘Prosthetic Memory: The Starlight Archives”. It deals with a house which has been in my family since the early 20th century as it relates to my grandfather’s dementia, and the extensive archive of documents and photographs which it contains. The original wooden house, named Starlight (after its first owner), was built in 1820, and burned down in 1959. The bricks in the chimney, which were made of local clay, were all that remained, and they were dumped in the woods to make way for the new Starlight. That was just a rumor until I found them this year after searching for several days. After cleaning them, I discovered a variety of finger and hand prints on the bricks, which got me thinking about the brick as something which tends to be void of any aura or historical interest. Yet, clay, once fired, is a material which can retain its form – its memory - for thousands of years. This led me to pursue learning how to dig and make my own clay.
I was fascinated by the idea of the brick being the smallest and oldest architectural unit. In addition to learning how to make clay from scratch, I was interested in the materials which were used to make the glazes – principally ash, but also iron oxide, copper carbonate, and a variety of other secondary materials like crushed glass and stone. What struck me was that traditional glazes are made up of architectonic materials – wood, iron, copper, glass - which take on a radically different form when exposed to extreme heat. I went on to develop my own glazes using the same materials which made up the original Starlight. This created a challenging question regarding the distinction between destruction and creation, especially when thought of in relation to memory and memory loss. The bricks are inscribed with elements from the archive. On these two specific bricks, there are fragments taken from my grandfather’s notebooks from when he worked at NASA, as well as fragments from an apparently unreliable account of the family history.
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