Monday 9 August 2021

On Reflection: Ecologies of Light and Matter

Leanne Bell Gonczarow

As part of the The Dear Green Bothy Pop-Up, Leanne Bell Gonczarow of the Edinburgh College of Art presented a short film ‘On Reflection’.

The film offers a slow montage of oblique and arresting images inviting us to think about where light originates, how it moves and manifests the world, and how it remains both instantaneous and ages-old. We are shown how the screens and digital devices we routinely use rely on light emitted from the sun only minutes previously, yet contain photons millions of years old. In watching this film we are invited to think whether light has history, or even a memory – and what that might mean for how we imagine the future of our planet.

In Leanne’s own words: my practice-led research investigates the interaction of light with matter. My work draws attention to the behaviour of light on a particle level, specifically in relation to the melting of the ice-sheets and the well-established hypothesis that the rate of global warming is predicted to dramatically increase due to a significant reduction in reflection of the sun’s rays from the surface of white ice. My research considers how the reflection, absorption and transformation of light through the photographic apparatus (camera and screen) might relate to the flux of photonic interaction with the earth’s land and sea. It explores how the camera could be utilised not only as a representational tool to document the landscape in crisis, but performatively, to foreground questions of ontology, materiality and agency. 

In ‘On Reflection’, personal and technical texts on the entangled nature of ice, light and digital photographic processes are combined with images from Leanne’s expanded photography practice to build a composite picture of light as an active agent in the material processes of climate-change. The screen features throughout these montages, both as material form and as idea.

Professor Mark Banks is academic lead for The Dear Green Bothy at the University of Glasgow.

Leanne Bell Gonczarow is a SGSAH-funded PhD researcher at Edinburgh College of Art.