Footlight and Beam

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Footlight and Beam

Jonathan Morse 2013

Copyright 2013 by Jonathan Morse

Footlight and Beam


When light extends itself from below, the shadows retreat upward but never vanish. When the black is seen from below it is always impenetrable. The footlight sends forth a light that fails at the front where it makes its contact with black. See it flourish upward, then fall back before the dark.


But when light shines level, it and we on whom it falls become halves of an equality. Touching our outline, the light shows us our shape and bestows it on us. See the light form,

then see it give itself to a man who is humbly asking for less.


It will continue on its level passage forever. It will continue to shape perception and to awaken.


Edwin Rosskam, “Untitled photo, possibly related to: Lunch wagon for Negroes, Chicago, Illinois,” May 1941. Library of Congress, Farm Security Administration / Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives.

“1915 — Labor Day Parade”: George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress. In the New York light, the Yiddish words on the man’s hat are changing. Transliterated, they read, “Hilft die furrier strikers.”