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Chantal Meng, Skylights — Kosciuszko Bridge, 2023. Colour video, silent, 15 min loop.

Luminous traces are visible from my kitchen window, especially at night, and when clouds pass by. They create a captivating effect of colored lights in the sky. This spectacle is a refraction from the illuminated Kosciusko Bridge — roughly 3 km away. Due to the density of the city, the Bridge is not visible from here, yet it makes its presence felt in the sky. It took me quite some time to realize that these bizarre lights outside my window originated from a bridge that far away. 

Completed in 2017, the Kosciuszko Bridge is a cable-stayed bridge over Newtown Creek, connecting Greenpoint in Brooklyn to Maspeth in Queens. Its illuminated and ever-changing flashy light show is part of an initiative spearheaded by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo to elevate the aesthetics of New York’s bridges by incorporating a colored light show accompanied by music, which would enchant the city’s nightscape and serve as an international tourist attraction. Cuomo’s project remains unrealized. Millions were spent, and LED lights were left unused. However, to this day, the Kosciuszko Bridge illuminates the sky, casting colored streaks of light on passing clouds.

The observation of the non-linear progression of light through the Kosciuszko Bridge forms the framework for the narrative “
Good Night” that I've developed. Here, I use ‘fabula’ as a method and practice to explore how we perceive and imagine, connecting knowledge with ways of seeing. This exercise forms my third research method, which draws from critical fabulation by Saidiya Hartman. It explores how boundaries between ‘natural’ and ‘artificial’ blur, challenging the line between fiction and non-fiction, negotiating not only what was, but also what could be.

The need for novel and transformative perceptual methods is urgent because, in many ways, we have become blind to our own perceptual capacities. Our current juncture marks a unique intersection where storytelling assumes a central role in our exploration of political, societal, and environmental matters. It mirrors the fragility of our contemporary existence. Amidst an epoch defined by seismic societal and climatic shifts, the relentless march of technological progress, and an inundation of information, the pursuit of visibility and transparency stands as a cornerstone in our quest to make sense of the world. Paradoxically, this very aspiration and the perspective through which we perceive the world have grown increasingly opaque.

Good Night” is inspired by a bedtime story featuring an urban fox’s journey intertwined with a dialogue between darkness and myself. Following a fox and through conversations with darkness, I suggest that we are not the ultimate subjects of this planet.
Read the full story here.

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