The process of domesticating light is inextricably bound up with the history of photography. On the one hand, it appertains to an inherent feature of the medium itself: recording an image involves the capture of actinic rays on a light-sensitive support using technical equipment. On the other hand, the constant struggle to better control and automate the use of light has determined and shaped photography since its beginning. Of the entire repertoire of resources that has been developed for the modulation of light, flash technology is surely the most striking and the most controversial demonstration.
A flash of light’s short duration and great intensity create a startling event that temporarily overrides darkness and causes a disorienting experience for those exposed to it. As an enchanting yet also perilous source of illumination, flash makes us see in impulsive and unaccustomed ways. Profoundly altering our perception of things, and always implying a possible loss of balance, illumination by flash puts reality into a state of uncertainty and instability.