On William Larson by Charles H. Traub

FIREFLIES: FAX MACHINE IMAGES

by Charles H. Traub

William Larson, Untitled, Fireflies series, April 10, 1975

An excerpt from DEAR DAVE, 26

After 40 years, I’m still in awe of William Larson’s Firefly images. I first encountered them in 1977 when I began working on a chronicle of photography at the Institute of Design (ID) in Chicago, The New Vision: Forty Years of Photography. Larson’s faxed images became a quintessential and exemplary art of my traveling exhibition that originated at the Light Gallery in 1979 and in the subsequent book, published by Aperture in 1982. How time flies!

Fireflies in themselves are light in motion. Catching them is about timing (a quick hand) and image making is about all three—time, light and motion. In a single transmission, William Larson caught something new about this relationship that hadn’t been seen before in six-minute transmissions of collaged and montaged images using a Graphic Sciences DEX 1 Teleprinter in 1969. He sent his imagination flying into a new world of transmission.