This photo of a “Indiana Harbor Belt R.R. switchman demonstrating signal with a fusee, used at twilight and dawn when visibility is poor” was taken in 1943, and found on Shorpy.com. Click on it to view the incredible beauty of the full size.
These traces of light are so evocative and so ephemeral–as anyone who ran around with a sparkler and traced their name into the sky could attest. Urban lightwriting first appeared on my radar from my interest in graffiti and placemaking, a subject I touched on briefly in previous posts (and in a few papers).
It seems that there is now an open source instrument for live performance drawing and animation called Tagtool that I am trying my best to spec out for this summer for some live, night-time annotation of a certain Neolithic mound.
Being able to lightwrite what once was on top of what is could be a fascinating opportunity for interpretation and performance in archaeology. I’ll reiterate something I’ve been saying for a while:
I want to haunt the present with the past.