Franz Kafka once wrote that one could think about people who were far away and touch those who were near, but anything else is beyond human ability. To him, writing letters meant laying himself bare to his ghosts because humanity fights for peace in its souls through trains, cars, and planes. But that doesn’t help, Kafka said, the other side is so much stronger and more peaceful—mail… telegraph… telephone.
The light for Into Black is captured at the sunrise of the vernal equinox. For this piece, the artist placed eight friends between the world’s meridians. They each held a shield made of photo paper against the disc of the sun while the rectangle cast a brief shadow above their heads—taking in the light in China, Africa, Greenland, Denmark, Lithuania, Poland, Minnesota, and Monaco. Like lightning rods evenly distributed on a roof, Into Black connects eight different places to the sky.
Another friend of Jason’s was sent into the Black Forest, where she collected all the light bulbs, matches, and candles at Beroldingerstrasse 7 in Umkirch. Nothing was to be forgotten—not flourescent bulbs, illuminated switches, nor the refrigerator light—until darkness reigned in the house. What she found and took has traveled to New York in a package, and is lying spread out on the gallery floor like the entrails of a unique mechanical system. Darkness falls on Beroldingerstrasse 7, 79224 Umkirch gives eternal night an address. The large house is now a lifeless hull, it appears not only dark, but dead, where time stands still like a cuckoo clock that has stopped ticking.
When Vladimir Nabokov tried to de-witch Franz Kafka’s spell, he gave a long lecture on Gregor Samsa the protagonist of Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Nabokov, a well-versed entomologist, came to the conclusion that the unfortunate fellow who lay there paralyzed in his insect shell could have flown if he had only known that he could. Because The Metamorphosis never suggests that there is the possibility of flight, we do not necessarily have to believe Nabokov’s interpretation. The good news about flying will not reach those to whom it is addressed or, more precisely, to either of the two people involved. And we, the readers, will not give up the story.