Published by Rice University. Spring/Summer 2017

Photons nosedive
Off fuzzy edges—
Into collective pools of absence.

Excerpt from the editors:
[...This issue of PLAT constructs a nuanced reading of our discipline, arguing that the constant historizations and theorizations of the ‘built’ may have left ‘absence’ undertheorized. Whether tired, bored of, or in an attempt to escape what is constantly there, the editors and contributors of this issue are seduced by absence. Absence is used as a tool to see the world extraordinarily and re-evaluate the “present.” ... The collection of work in this issue conveys the range of readings that arise from a word, arguing that, both semantically and derivatively, absence's meaning is manifold....]


This essay comes on the heels of the recent discontent with vision’s hegemony over other sense modalities. For the sighted, it is seldom opposed that vision is the predominant mode of perception. The greater critique, however, is of the “domination [...] of a visual paradigm in our cultural history”. This domination, as philosopher David Michael Levin notes, has shaped ethical, social, technological, and ontological structures through vision-driven illusion and allusion. Amidst this reasonable discontent, I pause to suggest that vision has not yet been exhausted in all its nuance, particularly in its attitude towards absence. Absence here includes percepts resulting from the absence of light, percepts being objects of perception.

I present shadows as one such “object of perception,” and provoke that the shadow is material, and the shadow is object. I curate two sets of pairings of shadows that appear across fiction and non-fiction, from myth to object detection algorithms. These pairings expose the shadow’s agility as it insists on being material, while assuming alterities, both as a percept of absence and an absence of perception.