Something magical happens when a simple hole in the ice is covered by a darkhouse shack. The hole glows. Sunlight goes through the ice covering the lake and refracts up through the opening, illuminating the pitch-black shacks. While looking online for an expert on darkhouse ice fishing and this murky form of light, I found Tom Johnson. After reaching him at home, he agreed to walk me verbally though the process of getting to the light. Every week after watching YouTube videos of ice holes in preparation (the same ones are featured in the video), I would get inside a refrigerator-sized cardboard box, tape it up so it was completely dark inside, ring Tom up on the phone, and listen as he guided me in chiseling my own hole and letting the light in. As our conversations unfolded, our seemingly disparate circumstances merged and intersected in unexpected ways.
Erin Colleen Johnson holds an MFA in Art Practice from The University of California, Berkeley, a Certificate in New Media from the Berkeley Center for New Media,and a BA in Art and Community Organizing from Warren Wilson College. Her work explores connections across great distances, and human acts of half-belief that create unintended, but potentially poignant results. Utilizing video, performance, photography, and installation, Johnson investigates practices of hope and empathy enacted by people ranging from Morse Code agents to ice fishermen. Her work has been exhibited nationally in spaces such as the Berkeley Art Museum, Southern Exposure, Adobe Books Gallery, Root Division, and the Zero1 Biennial. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Video and Photography at The University of WestGeorgia.