Dayburning Luminaires of Central Park: A Photographic Series
There are 1,600 luminaires in New York’s Central Park. When the lamp of a luminaire is on during daylight hours, park administrators refer to it as a “dayburner.” There are several reasons for a dayburning luminaire. Two of the most common reasons are the timers are malfunctioning or because a contractor is on site replacing burned out lamps. Dayburning luminaires appear in small clusters throughout the seven zones of the park.
From 2001 - 2007, I photographed nearly 600 of these infrequent sightings. Each image is of an individual luminaire, which is distinguished by a unique number. In her book, “Red-Tails In Love,”Marie Winn describes this system of numbering as “one of the parks many secrets: the first two digits on each lamppost tell its location relative to the nearest city street (page 12).” In addition, if the last two digits end in an odd number, the luminaire is on the west side of the park; in an even number, the east side.
I was originally drawn to the intersection of artificial and natural light as recorded through the lens of vintage medium format plastic cameras. However, the project became more prominent in my studio practice after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Like most New Yorkers, I was looking for a way to soothe my shattered nerves. I learned during this period that in order to recover from the shock of such staggering violence, it helps to follow a meaningful schedule. Going to the park with my cameras became my salve. I found the repetition of photographing these lights to be a comfort.
Much to my delight, I had stumbled upon an urban mapping project, recording the number of each luminaire as I shot and with what camera.
In my artmaking, I find working within a structure or giving myself certain rules to follow liberating. While each frame is composed similarly, the variation between images is vastly different, showing unique background landscapes, buildings, seasons, shadows and sky. Shooting with close to thirty different vintage medium format plastic cameras adds to the visual range of the series.
I showed the piece in several galleries over the year, installations of which you can view here. The body of work is unyielding with over 300 16” x 20” silver prints now in storage but these small collages are a joy to make and I’m glad I get to share them with you.
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