#sky #nofilter is a photography, text, video, and performance project capturing the political uncertainty of 2016 – 2017.
The project was originally an examination of how my smartphone's camera (a 2.5 year-old iPhone 5c) deals with the color blue by taking photos of the uninterrupted sky on cloudless days. What started as a way of marking time and a philosophical investigation of digital "seeing," (also as art that I can do on the hour-plus long commute to the college where I teach), quickly became something else entirely: a chronicle of every day that I woke up and went into the world during a year that left me, as a Black American, increasingly agoraphobic and traumatized. Posting these single color-block images online, I received a fair amount of response: not just the usual "likes," but comments about resonance. I learned that other artists were cataloging dawns or sunsets for the same reason: to mark that we are still alive. I collected blues primarily in New York City, but also in seven other U.S. states, including an uncanny representation of states that have experienced recent, highly public police killings of unarmed Black people (North Carolina, Louisiana, and Missouri among others).
The project’s second phase matched the sky images with a longer piece of personal text about abstraction and empathy, marking the passage of time and emotional shift. This phase transitions the photo work to video format, and also turns the text into a performance. The final phase of the project (to be completed) is a sculpture: an analemmic sundial featuring photos of the various sky blues and excerpts of the poetic text.
#sky #nofilter serves three functions: first, as an abstract work of art; second, as an individual story; and third, as a critical questioning of what we share. A lecture performance for #sky #nofilter was presented during Brooklyn Museum’s First Saturdays series on April 1, 2017. The full text of the project will be published as a chapbook from DoubleCross Press in late 2018, and portions have also appeared in Apogee Journal.