During World War II my grandfather participated in the removal of the stained glass windows from Chartres Cathedral in France in an effort to save them from destruction by bombing campaigns. This was not an entirely altruistic endeavor on his part. As the owner of Conrad Schmitt Studios in Milwaukee Wisconsin, America's largest stained glass studio, an opportunity to examine the exquisite medieval craftsmanship of the cathedral's windows must have been irresistible.
This story became a part of my family’s identity and I felt it necessary to make a pilgrimage out to the cathedral, so on a month long trip to Paris in 2013 I set out to visit it and see the famous stained glass windows. Upon seeing the cathedral however, I became fascinated by the play of light upon the interior rather than the windows themselves. As a lifelong photographer I am intrigued by the many manifestations of light. It is, after all, the foundation of the photographic process.
I began photographing these spectral light forms as they suddenly appeared and then just as quickly faded away, slowly traveling over the interior geography of the cathedral. The structure was a kind of massive camera obscura, the bright orb of the sun passing through the Medieval optics of the stained glass windows and then projected into the interior.
I was aware of the Gothic aesthetics of light where it is analogous to divinity, purity, and cosmic perfection and wondered how many throughout the centuries, like me, had contemplated the phenomena of these projected short-lived orbs of light, ignoring the more didactic lessons in glass above?