Landscape, with lone white house in the middle of the view, a leafless tree grows in front of the house

Still from Bradford Young, REkOGNIZE, 2017, Three-channel video (color, sound), Courtesy of the Artist. REkOGNIZE is commissioned by the Hillman Photography Initiative, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh

Bradford Young: REkOGNIZE

Scaife Galleries

REkOGNIZE is a three-channel video installation and a meditation on photography, memory, and movement. Artist and Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Bradford Young (Selma, Arrival) finds inspiration in Pittsburgh’s Hill District neighborhood, a site of the early 20th-century Great Migration. During this time, millions of African Americans moved from the rural southern United States to cities in the north and west. The Hill District saw a flourishing of culture during these years and was a site of artistic development for luminaries such as August Wilson, Charles “Teenie” Harris, Errol Garner, and many others. REkOGNIZE takes its visual cues from the Pittsburgh landscape, especially the city’s tunnels, which serve not only as literal entry points into the city, but also as metaphors for this movement of people and culture.

The work features Young’s footage of the Hill District, shots of Pittsburgh’s tunnels, and a translation of several Teenie Harris photographs into matrices of metadata. This digital code is also the basis for the work’s musical score by jazz pianist and composer Jason Moran. For REkOGNIZE, Moran picks up on the patterns and visual rhythms found within the code, creating music that enters into conversation with Young’s imagery. Young and Moran’s interdisciplinary approach to Harris’s images asks us to reflect on the power of photographs from the past to inspire work today. In doing so, they blur the boundaries between still and moving image, analog and digital, and visual and auditory experiences.

Cinematographer Bradford Young discusses his love for still photography.

About the artist
Artist and cinematographer Bradford Young (b. 1977) was nominated for an Academy Award in 2016 (Arrival) and is currently filming the untitled Han Solo film. His short films include his 2016 collaboration with Common, Black America Again. Young’s two-channel video installation Untitled (Structures), 2012, produced with artist Leslie Hewitt, was commissioned by the Menil Collection with support from MCA Chicago and the Des Moines Art Center.

REkOGNIZE is commissioned by the Hillman Photography Initiative at Carnegie Museum of Art. Support for the Hillman Photography Initiative is provided by the William T. Hillman Foundation and the Henry L. Hillman Foundation.

Exhibition Images

People embracing with buildings and several bystanders in background. The bystanders look concerned and upset.
A police officer and a woman in a long skirt standing in a grassy area on top of a hill, looking over the edge of the hill
Charles Teenie Harris, Group portrait of wedding party, posed in yard possibly on Chalfont Street, July 25, 1942, Heinz Family Fund
Busy city street, with large crowd gathered around a hearse
Ballroom, with women in billowing gowns dancing with men in suits
Portrait of a woman in a long wedding dress, which falls to the ground and fans out around her. She is holding a bouquet of flowers.
Men sitting at a long table, facing camera. They are wearing suits, and the man in the center is speaking into a microphone.
Night scene, with smokestacks of a factory in the background blasting out light and smoke. In the foreground on a building at left, a large wall mural shows a whiskey advertisement. It reads
Male entertainer wearing a suit and hat, dancing with fingers pointed to floor, beside, microphone, in club with jazz, musician caricatures on bandstand
Female dancer in two piece costume bending over backwards on stage with jazz musician caricatures decoration
Crowd of hildren, all facing the camera, wearing costumes, including pirates, masked heroes, and monsters