How do photographs from the past inform the present?
Inspired by the photographs of Charles “Teenie” Harris”, Bradford Young’s three-channel video installation, REkOGNIZE, considers the history, legacy, and identity of Pittsburgh’s Hill District. Premiering on June 16, 2017, this immersive experience explores the enduring influence of photographs from the past.
In REkOGNIZE, Young bends and resolves the light coming through his camera lens to juxtapose moments of soft and sharp focus, searching for traces of the community’s past. He translates 13 Harris photographs of the Hill District into metadata, the symbols and numbers underlying digital images. This code forms the basis for the video’s musical score by jazz pianist and composer Jason Moran, who picks up on the patterns and visual rhythms found within the metadata. The experience is punctuated by footage of Pittsburgh’s tunnels, cast as literal passageways into the city and metaphors for the Great Migration. In this twentieth-century movement, millions of African Americans journeyed from the South to the Hill District and other neighborhoods in cities across the North and West.
Young’s interdisciplinary approach to Harris’s images disrupts the boundaries between still and moving image, digital and analog data, and visual and auditory experience. In doing so, he invites us to reflect on the power of photographs to inspire work across creative media today.
Carnegie Museum of Art and The Daisy Wilson Artist Community partnered on a community event at the August Wilson House(external link) on September 23, 2017 featuring Bradford Young and playwright, director, and producer Mark Clayton Southers. In this conversation, Young and Southers discuss the impact of August Wilson’s plays on their own artistic work and process. The evening concluded with a projection of REkOGNIZE on the exterior wall of the August Wilson House.
Generous support for the Hillman Photography Initiative is provided by the William Talbott Hillman Foundation and the Henry L. Hillman Foundation.