AnnieLaurie Erickson, Slow Light

Afterimages have a transgressive quality. They appear most strikingly when we use our eyes in ways that we shouldn’t—by staring at something too bright or holding our gaze for too long. When I moved to Louisiana, I was struck by the appearance of oil refineries at night; they looked like strange forbidden cities starting fires in the sky. Soon after I began to photograph them, I was stopped by local police and told that I was not allowed to photograph these structures according to post-9/11 regulations. This experience heightened my interest in these sites as subjects for my work with afterimaging. Keeping a low profile, I undertook a long-term project documenting petrochemical refineries in the Gulf South. My photographic afterimaging process renders the man-made landscape of the fossil fuel industry as ghostly and vanishing, an unearthly forbidden city that should be perceived as a relic of our destructive past.