Generally when we look at photography or a moving image, we are seeing light reflected or refracted off of the subject. In this work, light itself is the subject. This light is the collapse of foreground and background and a rupture within the photograph.
In the summer of 2012, Cameron Gainer traveled to Elkmont, Tennessee, a small abandoned settlement in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, to photograph the Photinus-carolinus, a species of firefly. This luminous organism appears here for approximately three weeks every year, and nowhere else on the planet. Peak flashing occurs in early June. The fireflies take one to two years to mature from larvae but will live as adults for only about 21 days. While in the larval stage, the insects feed on snails and smaller insects. Once they transform into their adult form, they do not eat. They mate and then they die. During this brief time, their light illuminates the landscape.
These images are not intended as documentary photography and video, but rather as analogies to chance and the synchronicity of life. On the surface, these images capture a particular phenomenon. But they illustrate a larger metaphor for the organization of the universe.
Gainer's video work is accompanied by the music of composer/performer Alex Waterman. Waterman's composition employs the cello and a variety of analog and digital electronics to mimic the juxtaposition of love and death in the insect's choreography.
Gainer is a visual artist making work in a diverse range of media. He is also the publisher of The Third Rail, a nonprofit quarterly publication devoted to a discussion of modern and contemporary art, politics, philosophy, and culture. He has had solo museum exhibitions at The New Temporary Contemporary at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia and the Museum of Contemporary Art at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Recent group exhibitions include "Think Film" at Galerija Podroom in Belgrade, Serbia; "Metagalactic" at David B. Smith Gallery in Denver, Colorado; "Spectators, Rendered and Regulated" at Koenig and Clinton Gallery, New York, New York; "Midnight Party" at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; "The Paranoia of Time" at Carter & Citizen Gallery, Los Angeles; and "Portal" at McClain Gallery, Houston. Gainer has been the recipient of a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, a Pollock-Krasner grant, a James L. McKnight Fellowship, and a Jerome Foundation research grant.
Alex Waterman is a founder of the Plus Minus Ensemble, based in Brussels and London, specializing in avant-garde and experimental music. In New York, he has performed with the Either/Or Ensemble. Waterman completed his PhD in musicology at NYU in 2014 and published a book about the composer Robert Ashley with the designer and writer Will Holder. He was a featured artist in the 2014 Whitney Biennial.
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NIL 1, 2012
Archival pigment print
72 x 48 inches