This Light Creed

Realistically, the sun is the closest thing we have to a god. It is our life-giver; the primary object of our obsessions, faiths and beliefs; it sets our rhythms; it illuminates our moon; it colors us in; it is our mirror—or at least it makes our reflection possible. But unlike other great stars witnessed throughout human history, it doesn’t have enough mass to explode as a supernova. In about 5 billion years it will start to turn into a red giant, growing so large that it will engulf Mercury, Venus, and probably Earth. In the words of Earth, Wind, and Fire, “That’s the Way of the World.” A suitable response to this seems to hang between a shrug and a call to arms.

Regardless of this probable outcome and any schemes we may have to outmaneuver it, human relations feel nothing short of nightmarish on a “day to day” basis. One could ask - what would you expect from a species programmed to survive at any and all costs amongst millions of other organisms all striving for the same goal? One could answer “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” One could also answer “check me out on YouTube.” Either way we’re left to deal with a mutated representation of God as radiant technology itself.


While This Light is at a loss to provide reason for anything to exist, it finds that our existence continues to warrant the feverish exploration of things that make no claims towards existing for a reason. This Light believes that these things—works of art and other anomalies—allow us to understand how existence is organized and, in turn, reorganize our existence. The impetus of This Light is bound to a sensitivity towards its own reorganization of the world, regardless of how small its scale, through the illumination of certain works of art. "Certain" here entails queer aesthetic forms that create disturbances in the seemingly natural order of things and unwind our counterfeit intuitions. Through this act of illumination, special attention will be given to that which is excluded from shining elsewhere.

Pragmatically, This Light was at first a reaction to the lack of a screening venue - or even a weekly screening series - in Los Angeles committed to moving image art. With an expansive definition of what that means and no particular allegiances to anything, This Light shows things commonly referred to as video art, experimental film, commercial cinema, art film, documentary, television, music videos, viral videos, and pornography. These things are combined through the same stream of light so that those common labels become perplexing, and then perhaps even irrelevant. Additionally, things commonly referred to as performance art, readings, live music, and raves take place. The motivation for this comes out of experience working within a repertory cinema, an underground media art gallery, an art house cinema, a video store, a free alternative art school, an inner-city after school video program, a rural summer film program, an orphanage, a political lobby group, a labor union, the motion picture industry, the music industry, live event production, nightclubs, BFA programs, MFA programs, film festivals, contemporary art museums, corporate video departments, residencies, illegal file sharing networks, and churches.

This Light emerges out of a desire to make private viewing habits public through a warm embrace of the constraints, expectations, and potentials that a social screening environment can afford. At a time when public space has largely dissolved into private property, This Light opens the domestic up to various publics. While avoiding patronizing social prescriptions or empty claims towards "sparking dialogue," This Light is committed to experimenting with how different events can appeal to different people.

When films were hard to find, the strips of celluloid and the events they allowed for were treated with reverence - people knew they may never be able to experience them again. Unbound from physical forms and set free across networked technologies, moving images now exist without spatial or temporal limits and call the original site of cinema into question. In response to this, events at This Light are composed to resurrect the reverential tone of the cinema through a sensitivity towards the viewing experience as a whole, in all of its aesthetic, technological, social, and political dimensions. At this historical moment, This Light can offer a being-together that ameliorates the monetization and distraction of attention while scrolling feeds of streaming content in solitude. More abstractly, This Light believes there is a feeling of going to the cinema, being in the cinema, and leaving the cinema that deserves cultivation.

This Light is more like a space of worship than a commercial operation in which you stand near some collectible assets and wait to talk to the right person. It’s all about the work in relation to the present audience, not the status of the work or the humans in the audience. When This Light shows something, it’s not because it feels it should, or has to for some reason external to the work itself; work is shown based on that same impulse when you share a link with a friend - “you have to see this.” Except that it will be seen large, loud, and in the dark.

This Light will eventually take place in and around a specifically designed object. The object is designed to provide optimal viewing conditions for works of art, and responds to the tendency for alternative screening venues to be uncomfortable sites of compromised viewing conditions under looming threats of eviction. The object is an informal, parasitic structure that exploits the environmental potentials of a private back yard in Southern California. By day it’s a functional camera obscura (closed roof) or breathable patio sunshade (open roof), by night a soundproofed cinema with an HD projector, hifi soundsystem, and comfortable seating. It is portable enough to be moved to a new site if need be, drawing on the history of moveable and nomadic units as an emancipatory project.

This Light leverages the ability for networked technology to connect us to the world at large. Like Stan Vanderbeek in his imagining of his Movie-Drome as a theater linked to orbiting satellites that would store and transmit images, This Light imagines a global network of like objects through which ideas, audiences, programming, and files are shared. In fact, this text is an instruction manual for executing like projects elsewhere.

This Light is a collector of sorts, but operates more like a seed collector than a private art collection. Whatever This Light shows, it will save, effectively creating a sanctuary for endangered works. The works will not be saved for any sort of economic circulation, just so that one more copy exists. Because spatial and temporal limits don't apply, work can keep accumulating without expiration and the old won't have to make way for the new.

A more permanent home for the project is http://thislight.org, which delivers information about the future of the project while archiving its past. Certain artworks and events will be extended onto the website, which will likely outlive those who were around to witness its launch in 2017.

This Light strives to behave like a wave in a world of excessive congeries of particles. This Light is not a formal organization, commercial operation, nonprofit, or brand. Such formations would only slow it down and suppress its livelihood, so This Light stays as lean and flexible as possible. This entails:

-astonishingly low operating costs
-a staff of one
-no board
-$0 price of admission
-below zero respect for the false scarcity of the art market and film festival circuit

The program relies on the permission of artists, the public domain, and the “home use only” clause of commercial media (which includes “art house” and “independent” cinema). This Light embraces the circulation of works online, and places them in the highest quality screening conditions possible for anyone who cares enough to show up. If it makes sense for the work, it might just loop for days.

This Light accepts that it is an institution while lucid dreaming about what that can mean and do. If This Light were to refer to the "institution" as other than itself, it would disavow its role in the reproduction of its conditions. It's not a question of inside or outside - This Light literally and figuratively erases that distinction. Nor is it a question of being opposed to the institution: This Light is the institution. Therefore, it's a question of the form of the institution, the values it institutionalizes, the work it supports, and the forms it aspires to. Because the institution of art is embodied and performed by individuals, these are the questions that This Light asks of itself in an act of institutional self-criticism.

In this sense, This Light doesn’t need rhetorical works that explicitly perform institutional critique to professionals within the cottage industry of critical art. Married to these logics, art lives in incest, swallowing, engulfing its own tail, still part of its own body, fornicating within itself, and passion becomes a nightmare tarred with protestantism … a monument, a heap of ponderous grey entrails.

Implicitly, This Light executes institutional critique through that which it refuses. Explicitly, This Light is an affirmational artwork that illuminates itself - the object, the audience, the idea - with works of art that must be seen.