Deborah Lefkowitz

Back to Archives
Light�
        in continuous interplay with darkness
                    �provides the raw material from which I create film and
                     photographic images, and the physical environment
                     for viewing these images.
Shadow Pieces installation
El Camino College Art Gallery

In a darkened movie theater, the bright screen attracts our attention. Yet this shimmering rectangle exists only in relation to its surrounding frame: Darkness defines the contours of light. In Shadow Pieces, I reverse this relationship�Light gives shape to darkness, sculpting space as the projection beam travels through it.

The images for Shadow Pieces originate in my documentary film, Intervals of Silence: Being Jewish in Germany. Visually this film explores the spaces of my husband's German hometown, asking implicitly how these spaces embody memories of the past for contemporary residents, for my husband, for myself.
The whole gallery
is thus conceived as a
theatrical space in which
images are not merely
constructed, but are enacted,
with the participation
of the viewer.
The distance in time that has elapsed since I shot this footage now allows me to investigate more deeply the relationship between images and memory�
between spaces encountered in the physical world and spaces constructed in the mind's eye.

Individual film frames have been re-photographed and then projected as 35mm slides in Shadow Pieces. I use the 24-frames-per-second (normal film running speed) as if they were the counts of a metronome, but I discard a uniform progression of frames. Each image is both a discrete spatial entity and a beat in the passage of time. The play of light and shadow created by slide images that are projected with different dissolve intervals results in a rhythmic composition in time as well as in space.

Dziga Vertov, early Soviet film director and film theorist, described the motion picture camera as a "mechanical eye" and the filmmaker as a "builder" who puts the viewer in spaces that did not exist before they were constructed on film. In Shadow Pieces, the viewer becomes this mechanical eye, moving through the gallery as if looking through the changing perspectives of a camera viewfinder. The whole gallery is thus conceived as a theatrical space in which images are not merely constructed, but are enacted, with the participation of the viewer.

Shadow Pieces at El Camino College Art Gallery is the middle work in a trilogy of installations created in 1999, beginning with Light Chambers at the University of Judaism-Platt Gallery in Los Angeles (March 21-May 2), and concluding with Eclipses at the Galerie Am Scheunenviertel in Berlin, Germany (August 20-September 10).

I am most grateful to Wendy Brown for her generous and thoughtful design assistance and computer support for the catalogue. My special thanks to Mack Brandon for his kind help with image scanning; to Ginger Eaton for her fabric expertise; to Cesar Nunez of Planet Plastics Company, and Leilani Child-Wilds, for their advice on plexiglass fabrication; and to Stu Singer of Schneider Optics, Inc., and my father, Irving Lefkowitz, for working with me on the mathematical formulas for calculating image projections.

DEBORAH LEFKOWITZ
Back to the top of page          Click here for a view of the installation.



 Last Updated On: 1/13/06