Tracing the Wind

Exhibition Curated by Amanda Douberley
Glassell School of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX



abrisamento  ( ə • brez • ə  • mento)  n

1: beginning of a breeze 2: coming into consciousness 
3: movement of a perception into consciousness 4: moment of apprehension
5: when we see the trees move and then we feel the breeze move over us
6: breeze turning into wind


Installation detail from Tracing the Wind, 2005


"Tracing the Wind" features The Pinholes (2005), a video installation and text piece. Continuing Bash's exploration of natural phenomenon, The Pinholes captures an everyday occurrence that often goes unnoticed: images produced by the sun filtered through tiny gaps in tree's canopy. These subtly shifting beams of light create abstract patterns that at first dazzle the viewer, challenging our perceptive tools. The pinholes' glittering movement generates a disjointed rhythm without logic, except that of the wind itself. These chance effects make us aware of the structures hidden within organic systems, and our inability to control and comprehend the world around us.


Take wind and light, primary subjects for Bash’s inventory of observations. Both are ubiquitous, yet visible to us only when they interact with something. The human eye is so sensitive it can see a candle burning twenty miles away, but we don’t actually see the light itself. All we can perceive is the reflection of light at differing wavelengths exciting the photoreceptors of our eyes, where radiant energy is transduced into neuroelectrical energy. We don’t actually see light passing through the air unless it strikes dust and reflects off of it. Yet this virtually indeterminate force both particle and wave brings us eighty percent of the information we perceive every day.

- William L. Fox, Listening to Light: Katherine Bash and Observational Displacement

Fig 1: The tiny gaps between leaves act as pinhole lenses, projecting images of the sun onto the ground below.

Fig 1: The tiny gaps between leaves act as pinhole lenses, projecting images of the sun onto the ground below.


Installation detail from Tracing the Wind, 2005


Tracing the Wind, 2005 — Exhibition catalogue

Katherine Bash’s video installation, Abrisamento, captures a natural phenomenon that, for all its visual interest and beauty, is so common as to be unremarkable: images produced by the sun filtered through tiny gaps in a tree’s canopy. These beams of light pierce the shadows beneath the tree, and create abstract patterns, sometimes called “sun- pictures,” that change according to the movement of the tree as it sways in the wind. Bash chose to project her video from the ceiling onto elliptical supports that seem to hover in mid-air, mimicking the projection of the sun’s light down through the leaves of a tree and onto the ground, and perforating the space of the gallery with an event from the outside, or “natural,” world.

Abrisamento continues Bash’s larger project of investigating our relationship with the world around us. With her videos, photo- graphs, and text pieces, she explores the ways we perceive, and do not perceive, our surroundings. Over the past three years, Bash has developed a Field Guide to Observable Phenomena as a method for aesthetic practice. This open-ended project asks two key questions: Do things need a name to be perceived? How does our language dictate what we see and what we say, or what we do not see and do not say?

- Amanda Douberley, Sun Pictures from Tracing the Wind, 2005