Tracing body heat in a scorching mansion

May 10, 2020, 10:12 p.m.

Even in large, beautiful houses like the ones pictured in this photo series, I have never felt at home. Always restless, unable to feel comfortable anywhere, and constantly tip-toeing even in my own private quarters, I made a photo series that reflects how I feel I exist in the scorching hot Central Florida home in which I have resided during quarantine.

“In the House” is a photography series capturing a part of my COVID-19 quarantine for an assignment for the course Photography II: “Digital.”

The prompt: “Bending light: You are required to engage with light as a subject. By creating and/or modifying light, explore original ways to reflect and refract it. Can you make a rainbow? Be as experimental as possible.”

I have an interesting relationship with quarantine, relocating numerous times and not having a stable place to live. I shot this photo series as a way to reflect how I feel about my home-less body, psyche and life history.

I grew up without a stable living situation until I came to Stanford. It wasn’t until I lived in other people’s homes during COVID-19 that I realized that my homelessness continued mentally, even when it wasn’t bodily.

I took this entire photo series while on FaceTime with my friends very late at night while everyone was sleeping. The light path, which I created by using a lighter, matches and long exposure, symbolizes the small, confined path that I felt comfortable in, and the trace of my energy and body heat.

My body heat signified the routine paths that I would take everyday — up the stairs, on my chair, around my doorknob, around my water bottle — in an effort to create familiarity. In an effort to create routine. In an effort to create stability. In an effort to create home.

Contact Victoria Chiek at vchiek ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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