“I was working with neon light and argon light and helium—different gases I had been experimenting with. And I was also interested in projection and ways of carrying light. The idea of sand was actually originally suggested by Chuck Arnoldi.
I started projecting images on the sand. Mundane images from a slide projector, like family shots, and the effect was incredible. I realized that sand, especially light grain sand, was like a movie screen. It picked up every grain and illuminated it.
I was interested in setting up some kind of complex structure that reflected light and also could give the illusion of piercing through a solid object, so I started working with plate glass.
I was used to working with glass with the neon art and knew how plate glass could light up. I had worked with this glass blower who would put these things together for me. I’d literally be over his shoulder, “Pull it here, pull it there, this link, that link.” I’d write them [out] like a script; I ended up calling a lot of the pieces light sentences because they were like scripted things.
The sand is what held these architectural structures [made of plate glass] up. It appeared like an arbitrary mass—but it was actually very carefully poured and used the weight of it so that the whole structure would work. That piece was recently purchased by the Museum of Modern Art in New York.”
— Excerpt from Venice Days by Tibby Rothman