Solstice Week, 2015
As a winter desert valley sunset commences, especially in thoroughly unclouded sky, chiseled mountain ridges’ skeletal margins of counter-darkness materialize, gnarling, under fleetingly atypical forces of color, the power of blacks and ochres to orthogonally dominate onlookers’ visual field. Instead, like a violet canvas furiously unfurled, suddenly dense light slams against skyscraper rocks with a perceptibly downward weight, immediately, as it often feels in memory, unleashing an atmospheric anesthesia of pause to which so many gazers blissfully perish.
Far from the terrestrial hyperchroma of metropolis — its vertically tetragonal landscape rising like mirrored and stuccoed cordillera, checkerboard betwixt miniscule valleys of urban corridor — the unobstructed squat and broad desert foreground cowers into a state of rushed recession; a reversal of optic powers. But here, the consumption of desert light enforces this effect vertically, downward, gravitationally, like curtains cascading over the edges of freestanding existence, enrobing it away.
In the final moments through this corridor of celestial transit, the picture frame of sight is no longer characteristically illuminated from behind like an atmospheric light box with objects afore, rather raking light angularly refracts upward. So, too, on hallowed sunrise. Nevertheless, whether city- or countryside, the primary source of natural light is always the same. But the daytime experience of ochred backdrops and craggy contours sufficiently marks the memory for this nighttime entrance; the experiential sequence of light into dark is a key factor.
Unlike fields of loud green or humid kaleidoscopic skies, neutral-hued geology amidst desert aridity instead allows a more undiffused spectra unaffected by harsh complementary contrasts.
And yet, though the light rakes across the land and refracts upward into the atmosphere, the experiential result is one of downward force, and, correspondingly, by right angle, seems to push the world away from us. The sky steadily opens to nighttime, the world again seems larger, like early morning, than it had just before. Beneath cascades of heavy darkness, somehow, in the pause, in the desert, in the dryness, it torrents light.