The San Francisco Bay Area is full of sites that have significant and whimsical historical references for locals and people around the world. I will travel to a selection of these sites and record the history of each place from the point of view of a witness who was there whenever the human historical events took place, and who remains there to this day.
This witness is the sun, and I am committing myself to transcribing the sun's stories and creating a book that stands as a Solar History of Significant Places in the Bay Area. Locations are sites of geologic, social and cultural histories and include where the San Andreas Fault line is visible, sites of first Indigenous settlement, where the Black Panthers were formed, Harvey Milk's Camera shop, where the first fortune cookie was supposedly created, and many more.
This project builds on a previous one called The Shape of History. For over 100 days beginning in May 2020 I dedicated myself to a daily transcription of the story of a moment, as told by the sun. I unrolled a sheet of paper and, witnessing what patterns of light and shade fell upon it, offered myself in service of this story, inscribing upon the paper every detail I could, for a continuous duration of time. It was an impossible task, to catch it all. Patterns evolved as the wind blew the filtering leaves on the trees, as people passed on the streets on the way to a protest, or to a parking lot for a socially distanced bike ride with their kids. Attempting and failing and returning to the task, I maintained the intention to care for what arose, to let each mark chart the shape of this moment, even as the moment moved, becoming the shape of what is passing, and what is to come.
Solar Histories is the next phase of my collaboration with the sun. I will collate the stories I transcribe and along with with maps and human-centered historical reference points, I will create a book that charts a history of the Bay Area as told by the Sun.
Funded by San Francisco, CA (February 2022)