New Naturalists

By Frankie Latour for RISDxyz - summer 2014

During his last year at RISD, Tavares Strachan 03 GL set out to make a piece about distance, longing and loss. To do this, he used three materials: a light meter, a light box and computer software. The meter was fixed to the roof of his mother’s house in Nassau, the Bahamian capital where Strachan was born and which he ached to feel during the long Rhode Island winter. The light box, built by hand, sat in his Providence dorm room. The computer program captured the meter reads, sent them over the Internet and fed them to the light box in real time— beaming the same intensity of waxing and waning light to his bedside that his mother might see from her window. Before he could only imagine that light. Now he had recreated it, with an immediate presence that nonetheless reinforced its physical absence. “If a leaf would land on the light meter, I might call home,” says Strachan, 35, who last year represented the Bahamas in its inaugural pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale. “My brother might go out and take the leaf off, and the light in my room would turn bright again.”