Ghost Light Theaters

The architecture of Ghost Light Theaters pays homage to the golden age of Art Deco movie palaces, temples from a time when most Americans "went to the pictures" at least once a week. The series also exemplifies the ways in which a movie theater is like a living, inhabited camera—both dark spaces to record the play of light and shadows projected within.

A "ghost light," a single bulb left illuminated when a theater is unoccupied and would otherwise be dark, is said to allow the resident ghosts to perform onstage when all the living inhabitants have finally left for the evening. This alchemy of stories enacted in the dark, organized around a single, focused light, also bears a striking resemblance to the magical picture forming that happens behind the eternal eye of the lens, in the perfect dark of a camera.

The imagery for Ghost Light Theaters consists of interchangeable slides printed on handmade Japanese paper. Envisioned as three film stills from a silent movie, each sequence is accompanied by a brief intertitle hinting at narrative. These montage sequences are composed from layers of vernacular snapshots and silhouettes of paper figures meticulously cut and photographed in the studio—ghosts.