Before and After Breath

Following a year collecting pre-1908 evacuated carbon-filament light bulbs, I corresponded with a community of bulb collectors to verify the manufacturing dates, for each to have contained a vacuum for a hundred years.

I contacted several industrial metal works, hoping to access a steel stamping press to crush the bulbs on carbon paper. My enquiries were met with disinterested until I spoke to the president of a local company who mentioned that there was a small play printing kit next to him on his desk that had been given to him by his late father.

Over the course of a weekend I brought the pre-1908 evacuated carbon-filament light bulbs to his family’s steel works, where each bulb was placed upon five sheets of paper, interleaved with five sheets of carbon paper and stamped using a fifty-ton industrial steel press.

Installation view: White Columns, New York.