"In the fall of 2014 Wright traveled to China to attend the opening of an exhibit that included a number of his own works. Arriving at his Beijing hotel room late, tired, and disoriented, Wright was mesmerized by a flashing, horizontal sliver of light that was visible in the darkness beyond his window. Beijing Odyssey is a video shot with a digital camera looking out Wright’s hotel window in Beijing. The long band that extends across the middle of the otherwise dark scene is the top sliver a large LED advertising billboard that has been obstructed, from this vantage point, by buildings. Nevertheless, some of the bright, flashy advertisements that appear on the billboard are discernible, including an advertisement for a Honda Odyssey mini-van.
Beijing Odyssey parallels the structure of Fox Talbot’s photograph 16 May 1843, Rouen: a darkened hotel room frames a view beyond a window; the view is obscured and interrupted; reference is made to ships in one, and cars in the other. Unlike Talbot’s picture, Beijing Odyssey is a quietly moving image. The sequence was captured in a camera obscura, but impressed on a digital sensor and presented again in a loop on the monitor through digital technologies. The promise of satisfaction embodied in the advertisements of late capitalism have been captured – in fragmented, moving forms – by one of the most significant visual techniques of industrial modernity.
Beijing Odyssey continues an investigation into the borders between the marvels of the machine age and the visual culture of modernity. These borders began to be traced around the time Fox Talbot captured the view from his hotel window in France using a camera obscura and a piece of paper soaked in silver iodide."
Excerpted from Randy Innes' essay Photography en exterus: Andrew Wright and the Expansions of Photography, that appears in the OAG exhibition catalog Pretty Lofty and Heavy All at Once, 2015.