Heat Signature

Video Documentation (3 mins)

Heat Signature, 2018
Mixed media installation with live video feed (consisting of a military-grade infrared camera, electronic heaters, microphones, drop-ceiling, texts and audio interviews)

Heat Signature was a site specific installation, commissioned for the exhibition space of Ludlow 38. The work explores the connections between Judeo-Christian ideology and the military-industrial complex. By juxtaposed a design for the Great Seal of the United States that was unsuccessfully proposed to Congress by Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin in 1776 with a FLIR Systems Inc. military-grade thermal camera, the work examines relations between American national histories and religious beliefs.

In Heat Signature, Jefferson and Franklin’s rejected design—which depicts the biblical story of the exodus of Israelites from Egypt with America serving as the “New Zion”—is brought to life with an infrared camera and electric heaters. Temperature shifts translate into a black and white video feed from the thermal camera; as the heaters turn on and off, the image of the seal, which is embedded in the ceiling unseen to the eye, heats and cools, appearing as a ghostly live transmission and then fading away.

Testimonies by a drone sensor operator, a criminal defense attorney and a media scholar—voices reflecting on the new temperature-based visual regime—are presented in three audio-recorded interviews