A History of Light explores the relationship between memory, photography, historical documents, and the inaccessibility of the past through a poetic examination of the negative space of the Dan Ryan Expressway in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago.
A science-fiction narrative tells the story of a group of people who have become blind to a section of highway: they miss exits they could have sworn existed but can not name and suddenly find themselves across the river from their destinations. In their attempts to understand their logistical difficulties, they look to the archives, and discover in historical aerial photography a second sight. They see, instead of the highway, stories about the neighborhood’s past; stories that are excerpted from the artist’s interview with a homeless man from the area, living beneath the highway. Louis Rubio becomes a character in the book, and guides them to beneath the overpass, where their second sight reveals, in the highway’s substructure, detailed demographic information from the U.S. Census. They are overwhelmed by the enormity of the unrecoverable past; their blindness and vision fade; and they are left in the present.