written by Eddie Arroyo
It had been a long day. The evening had just begun as I walked beneath Union Cleaners on 620 Kearny Street, which was wonderfully ominous. The dark corridor led down to Et al. A gallery run by Facundo Argañaraz, Jackie Im, and Aaron Harbour which functions more as a project space where exhibitions tend to be experimental working with a select roster as well as other local and international artists, writers, and curators.
After taking the final step down, I was presented with “We Are Only Dust and Shadow” the work of Amy M. Ho. The exhibition began with a series of small light box images hung on the wall of lighting stills. Ho explains that they were derived from a video documentation of a lighting storm in central Florida. Their intimate scale did lend itself to a time-lapse quality to it. However, the backroom was where a video installation was to be experienced. In it there were four projections facing each wall in the space and a very interesting thing occurred. Each projection would display a video of lightning striking but it was always in the periphery – just about out of sight. It would be very easy to miss the actual strike.
I come to find out that there are not many lighting storms in the Bay Area so the installation video has an odd effect.
Florida is inundated with lighting storms especially during the summer seasons. How odd it was for me to be across the country and feel as if I had not left home; at least for a moment. A thought that flashed through my mind as one projection lit up and disappeared in an instant, reminded me of the title of the show appropriated from the quota of Quintus Horatius Flaccus. Living in Florida it’s easy to forget the phenomenon which nature presents in this region and calls into question one’s own mortality. Then the problem rose to consciousness.
The light boxes were a poor substitute to convey the conceptual framework of the exhibit; a prodigal souvenir. After coming out of the video installation it was apparent it took away from the show. The presentation would had been better served if they were not there at all rather simply an empty room to host the audience prior to entering the installation. It was the equivalent to holding a thumb up to a painting to visualize a better composition. In the end it was enough to realize the inevitably of what was taken for granted in my own environment; walking around San Francisco overwhelmed by its mountainous landscape and fog.