Krista Thompson is Weinberg College Board of Visitors Professor and Associate Professor in the Department of Art History at Northwestern University. She is the author of
Video Light: Dancehall and the Aesthetics of Spectacular Un-visibility in Jamaica
2015. "Video Light: Dancehall and the Aesthetics of Spectacular Un-visibility in Jamaica", Shine: The Visual Economy of Light in African Diasporic Aesthetic Practice, Krista A. Thompson
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Since the 1990s, videographers wielding video cameras crowned with a bright white light have become fixtures in Jamaica’s dancehalls. Dancers will often compete in hopes of attracting the attention of the videographer and consequently the bright light from their video camera, which is described locally as “video light.” Video light encompasses a broader set of related performative and representational practices (from queer sartorial styles to skin bleaching), social interactions and transactions, through which dancehall attendees seek to achieve visibility, transformation, and mobility through the state of lightedness. This chapter offers a history of this visual technology, focusing on Jack Sowah, the first videographer to introduce video light and screens into dance venues, and the photography-based, multimedia art of Ebony G. Patterson. The chapter makes the claim that video light has democratized access to being on-screen and serves as a mode of claiming visibility as citizens in contemporary Jamaica.