An observer of a marble statue moves through the space around the sculpted artwork. The complexity and meaning of the artwork emerges over time. The statue self-obscures and self-reveals its truth as the observer changes his position. Relative motion through space and time enables a deeper appreciation of the artist’s intension.
Another observer looks at a light sculpture comprising a human face. The position of the viewer with respect to the artwork is static. In this case, positional movement is irrelevant to the discovery of meaning. In the making of a light sculpture the artist causes the work itself to emit a sequence of colors in various hues, intensities and durations. Dancing colors self-obscure and self- reveal the deeper truth of the sculpture.
This light sculpture, Unmasked, is based on abstract digital portrait of an ICU healthcare worker, perhaps a nurse in Italy, early-on in the first wave of the SARS Covid-19 pandemic. She has removed her mask and stands staring large- eyed and silent before you the viewer. The portrait lies perfectly flat and static on a piece of paper. But hidden within the ink of the portrait is a chromic dimension that is revealed only as light jumps, flashes on and off, or grows in intensity only to fade away again.
As hospital work-shifts unfold day by day, week after week, month after month, tight-fitting N95 masks crease canyons into the faces of caregivers, notch the bridges of their noses. The markings certify the authenticity of their heroism.
The rest of us, as befits the lower level of virus exposure that we experience, wear masks too, but generally cloth ones of lower efficiency than the N95. While the masks are effective in preventing viral infection, it is also true that they do nothing to shield any of us against the psychological trauma precipitated by the pandemic, even as we continue to live our severely interrupted and stressed-out lives.
Unmasked is an exploration of marks left by N95 masks on the faces of heroes. The marks are a metaphor for the mental damage that hides unseen behind all our masks. As shifting colors reveal and amplify the markings, Unmasked asks us to be aware of and sensitive to the wide spread psychological damage that the covid-19 virus is inflicting on all of us, even as masks enable most of us to avoid direct viral infection.