Touching Light
Proposal for an installation.
Research begun 2005 and continuing

Diamonds in hands image 1 diamonds in hands image 2
“...I know I’m wearing something of special beauty and glamour and weight in all kinds of senses, not just carats of course. Its imbued with where I’ve come from and what I have now to look forward to for the rest of my life in my relationships...” “I never thought I was going to get married, to be honest with you – and suddenly its all happened. It was all a bit of a whirlwind so it was all very magical, but I did know that I would like just diamonds and not any other stone…”

A diamond is the hardest natural material known to exist. It is also transparent: impervious to any other substance, its surface can be penetrated by the human gaze. When cut, of course, a diamond reflects light, splitting its rays into the colours of the spectrum. A diamond has the power to make light visible.

But diamonds come from the dark: they can originate in the outer reaches of space, carried to earth by asteroids, or formed when meteorites collide with the earth’s surface. Or they may begin their existence deep within the earth’s core, slowly forming over billions of years. Their passage to the surface is fraught with toil and danger. Many hands touch a diamond on its journey from mine to jeweller’s window. And those whose hands reach out to touch it, do so in the expectation that a diamond will bring something into their lives, something precious – food for a family, money to start a business, the exercise of a skill, the display of wealth, a pledge of love… A diamond reflects our aspirations, and what we will do to achieve them. Without our intervention, most diamonds would never be seen. But in bringing diamonds into the light, we reveal ourselves.

“Touching Light” is a video installation.
The installation is constructed around a series of black and white, high definition videos. The videos show different people talking about their relationship to diamonds. They are: owners talking about pieces of diamond jewellery; cutters talking about working with diamonds; traders talking about dealing in diamonds; miners talking about extracting diamonds from the ground. Only their hands are shown, in close up, holding the diamonds they are talking about.

In a darkened room, the videos are projected on to one or several walls, arranged to look like constellations of stars. Speakers around the room play the soundtracks at a low level. The ceiling of the room should be mirrored. The floor of the room should be dark and sprinkled with diamond dust. The dust is reflected in the ceiling, suggesting the transit of diamonds to the earth from space, through the stars represented by the videos showing on the walls.

Standing in the room, the viewer is conscious that, in touching diamonds, all those who do so, whatever their individual circumstances, are brought together as living beings, who share that need for the light that the diamonds embody as a fundamental part of their nature.

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