The works of Trace Heavens mark the results of James Nizam’s architectural interventions and studio-based explorations made to channel and record light. Where his earlier series Anteroom transformed abandoned rooms into straightforward pinhole camera obscuras, Nizam’s use of a perforated room is now less concerned with bringing the outside world in and recording it, than it is with using the light of that world to produce starkly beautiful visual effects that verge on the palpable. In Shard of Light, and the Thought Forms, Nizam harnesses the procession of the sun using jury-rigged setups that capture and manipulate sunlight into sculptural form. The resulting light sculptures establish a correspondence between room and camera as light capturing structures and extends it in time and space to the capture of solar phenomena within ancient astrological observatories such as those at Chaco Canyon or Xochicalco. The archaeological and pseudoscientific nature of Nizam’s solar recordings push the specific concerns of photography beyond the ordinary purview of the medium, working with light to establish poetic connections between the cosmos, photographic apparatuses, architecture, perception and the mind.
James Nizam is a photographer who makes sculptures and a sculptor who takes photographs.This reflexive descriptor can be ascribed to a particular modus operandi developed by the Vancouver-based artist over the past decade and, while hardly encompassing the entirety of his practice, it can be said to bind its central queries together.The process goes something like this: Nizam first gains access to abandoned domestic structures, which, emptied of their former inhabitants, quietly await demolition. Within these bare, cloistered spaces, he stages a variety of both “soft” and “hard” interventions.His Thought Form series (2011), for example, saw him limit the daylight entering a room to a tiny aperture, which he then directed, through a number of strategically positioned mirrors, into complex and ethereal geometric forms.
"The Trace Heavens work came about through an interest I’ve had with ancient solar architectures like those found at the Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth passage mounds in the Boyne Valley in Ireland. I wanted to approximate something similar to the idea of a solar alignment employed in the design of these astronomical observatories and was inspired to perform a series of architectural slicing’s and piercings made channel and record sunlight. The Thought Forms were staged in an empty room in my Vancouver apartment and are created via multiple exposures, which build their pseudo-holographic forms in stages over time in camera. They are difficult to create: the sun’s rays can only be deflected so many times by the mirrors before they dissipate, therefore to complete a single form I had to construct them in sections. The forms are constantly slipping away as the orientation of the sun to the room changes. Although I thumb nailed hundreds of forms in advance of starting the project, I chose a few that best pushed the visual illusion of simultaneously receding, projecting and remaining flat in space. The challenge was building these illusions in isometric projection and fitting them into anamorphic perspective from the point of view of the camera." James Nizam