2.02 Simple Apparatus for High-Contrast Scenarios

Rachel Elizabeth Jones

Glass oil lamp chimneys, modeling clay, Perler beads, quilting pins, test tubes, roses, rope

I could see almost nothing but a golden thread in the photographs I received. Technically, this “thread” exists only in the completed image, as the result of long exposure. There’s a body there, too, presumably the artist — but the imaginary ribbon of light is the brightest point of the composition. It could stand for anything: the flame of knowledge, sexual desire, life force, cherished secrets, the unknown. It’s unclear which entity is in control, if either.

In college, my best friend and I schemed up fragments of screenplay; one of these featured a young woman untangling gold thread while struggling to pay attention in a philosophy class. For us, this was about a contrast between a tactile, feminine work of untangling — “real” learning, maybe — and the impersonal, often male-driven inquiries of philosophy as an academic discipline.

This same friend came to visit recently, nearly ten years later. We talked about light and dark as (questionably?) standard proxies for good and evil. Often a “black-and-white” thinker, my question was how to acknowledge very real evil at work in the world now without writing off individuals or failing to find compassion, particularly since polarization is such a destructive force. Her answer, paraphrased, was that evil can be an energy that moves through people and places without being of them.

Simple Apparatus for High Contrast Scenarios playfully responds to these associations; it kind of burlesques removed, scientific approaches to complicated phenomena; it is scrappy and somewhat silly, its function more altarpiece than machine. The common thread with the previous work is literal: the golden thread, or in this case, yellow rope, connecting vessels of black and white, frayed edges smashed against their container. The roses don’t care which side they’re on.
—Rachel Elizabeth Jones

Simple Apparatus for High-Contrast Scenarios no longer exists! Between my cat and the heat from the woodstove melting the clay, it fell and shattered all over the floor of my house and I was picking up Perler beads for weeks.


Rachel Elizabeth Jones is a writer and artist currently based in Vermont. As a writer, she has contributed articles about art and cinema to publications including Hyperallergic, The New Inquiry, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. As an artist, she works to create experience and exchange through objects, with an inclination towards practices of gleaning, physical and spiritual reclamation, and concepts of apocalypse.

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