Theory of a Streetlight

Moths, snowflakes, noctambulants.

The last living example of silent cinema; film noir by other means.

Is there any denying that a streetlight is a call to action for the imagination at night?

A streetlight, almost any streetlight, is a far more profound, enticing and interesting site than every theatre and concert hall in the entire world. Set-designers and architects always blunder the most crucial aspect of the scene; they make the very artificial and stupidly humanist distinction between the audience and the lighting. In the streetlight, the two are one and the same. A cyclops, a medieval eyeball projecting its own luminescence, the streetlight watches a play of its own making. It is also the erotic object, the font of seduction, but a passive one, a fetish for insects and spies and raindrops. In this sense, the streetlight demonstrates acutely the possibilities everywhere for an inhuman, exteriorized imagination. With its strange perpetual buzzing, the applause rings out into the night, making emotional bonds with the fox and the raccoon and the toads. Here the imaginary loses its corpse; it is abroad under the canopy of darkness, it doesn’t have to worry about belonging to anyone, it simply plays itself out, a ghost, a looper, a grainy video that records the moment…The moment…

It must be underscored that these types of situational imaginary complexes are typically nocturnal processes. The day rarely lends itself to unfolding, perhaps only in dark corners and atopses, and even then, with a streetlight nearby, the drama is amplified to a hysterical pitch. Once the lamplighter, a kind of puppeteer, needed to set the motion in action. In this sense, automated photosensitive detectors as a poetic technology has been more revolutionary than the montage in film. It has allowed for the sequential and systematic lengthening of the night’s atmosphere to the broadest possible scope. What begins as a rather weak and blunt attempt by surveillance culture to erase the night of its mystery instead delivers the opposite effect: shadows, where once there was only darkness. Hiding spots, where once there was only dissuasion; now, a perpetual voyeurism and a call for all those sitting snugly indoors to step out into a world of rags and manholes.

A starkly funny moment. Did they really think it would make things safe?

For the street light, there is only one question, the most, almost the only pertinent question: what is abroad, tonight?

Under a street light, anything must happen.