A light that never goes out

There is a light that goes on and off. This light shines evenly across time and space in a perfectly coordinated and perfectly just system. Now here shines a light while over there darkness reigns. Later night will fall over here as day rises over there. In fact, only because of this movement from darkness to light and back again is there a there and a here and a now and a later in the first place. Or so we are told. This is how everything gets started. A light appears in the night of the nothing and time begins unfolding as a steady flicker between shadow and light. After uncountable numbers of days and nights man learns to articulate the difference between them and in the darkness of the human mind a shining light appears. Here I am using a metaphor to describe how speech awakens in man. The very first metaphor in fact. A metaphor of darkness and light from which others shall arise and multiply indefinitely. A genealogy, thus: from light to speech.

There is another light that shines in the same room as the light that goes on and off. But this light follows a different trajectory. It glows increasingly brighter until in the midst of it a face emerges. And once you recognize her glowing features she will remain aglow in front of you unceasingly. You may cut the electricity or close your eyes but this will make little difference. Her hair is silken and it slides into her face like curtains from both sides. Her body was found in a valley not far from here with bruises and burns and fingertips sanded away into oblivion. Or so we are told. This is how everything gets started. With stories and anecdotes hardening into the face of a woman whose disappearance keeps her glowing features suspended in time indefinitely. A genealogy, thus: from speech to light.

Hence we have two conflicting genealogies. One moves from light to speech, the other from speech to light. On the face of it they appear to be perfectly symmetrical. But this could not be further from the truth. In one there is a distance between light and speech that is unbridgeable, in the other speech and light coincide in perfect unity. One says ”There is a light” but only ever after the fact; only ever after the light has already reached our eyes. This is the order of science. The other says ”Let there be light”. And in the very same instant as those words are uttered there is light. This is the order of prayer, commandment and law. This it the order of hex. When God uttered those words at the very beginning there was neither sun nor moon nor stars in the sky. And yet there was light. A light that not only sprung from his words but were one and the same with the sentence he spoke. A light refracted every time those words are repeated by believers and non-believers alike – in silence and out in the open. This is the light that never goes out.



Erik Bünger is a Swedish artist, writer and composer whose work is based on extensive research into technology, animality and the human voice. His performance lectures and videos have been presented around the world in venues such as The Curitiba Biennial in Brazil, Centre Pompidou in Paris, KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, Moderna Museet in Stockholm, The Wellcome Collection in London, ZKM in Karlsruhe and The Portland Institute for Contemporary Art.

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