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Marion Manning

Tracking Dawn

I started at the summer solstice, June 21, to take daily photographs of the dawn. I continued to do so as a millennium project until summer solstice 2000. The site chosen for the photographs allowed pictorial documentation of movement of the sun relative to my position, changes to flora and in human activity as well as the weather at dawn. The choice of the site to include ubiquitous franchise businesses such as fast food restaurants and a street allowed a narrative element into the work and tied the images to almost every North American’s experience. Handwritten notes at the bottom of each photograph in the galleries documented the time of sunrise, the forecast weather and the actual weather for that day.

Comments on dawn, the millenium or the project itself were solicited from artists, writers, meteorologists and other scientists for additional interest. These appear on the 'Comments & Quotations' page.

This project was designed to document a number of factors in life as we entered the new millenium: the accuracy of meteorological science, atmospheric conditions, the appearance of such items as vehicles, typical businesses, trees, the early morning habits of ordinary people, and, I’m sure, much more that will become apparent in the photographs over time. Gallery presentation was a solid format of 7 images across and 13-14 images down in four sections, one for each natural season. With each row separated by coloured text space; the piece resembles a set of quilts. The quilt-like appearance both provides a homey association for the everyday life in the photographs and relates to two ongoing components in art: references to time consuming and obsessive work by women (me!) and the grid. I relate to Rosalind Krauss’ comments on the grid¹. The grid also relates to the pixilated images of the project on this web. On this web site, the images are viewable in weekly and seasonal formats as well as 'Weekly Specials' - the dawn that most impressed me each week. Overall the project marries science and art.

The work was displayed at the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. The first 14 days went up there on July 11th and cumulatived biweekly, with the last days going up June 28th, 2000. The finished work was on display at MSAC through December, 2000 and then travelled to Gallery 44, Toronto, and the Confederation Centre, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, as part of the Gallery 44 show 'The Infinite Between'. Tracking Dawn is now part of the permanent collection at the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre.

¹ Krauss, Rosalind E., ‘Grids’, The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1986. On page 18, Krauss discusses the grid as centrifugal, trapping a ‘fragment, a tiny piece arbitrarily cropped from an infinitely larger fabric". That’s how I see this documentation of a sequence of days in the overview of time.

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