David A. Brown's "Optical Chapel" -- The Last Days

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Houston is losing another chapel. But this one doesn't have anything to do with the Byzantine frescoes.

This Friday, Heights artist David A. Brown will be taking down Optical Chapel, a photographic installation that represents more than 135 hours of manpower and is comprised of just under 11,000 photos.

For the past month, visitors have meditated in this blue-toned "chapel," which is found in a vacated medical office in Midtown's Mekong Plaza next to Khon's Bar. Using thousands of 4x6 photos, Brown has created a kaleidoscopic vision of downtown Houston. Abstract images of the Chevron building, Allen Center and an abandoned restaurant on the 600 block of Main Street are made into unique patterns and then layered in neat rows to the point where they're hardly recognizable. The resulting imagery resembles the highly detailed and repetitive tiles of Islamic mosques.

"The second I saw the space, I knew exactly what I wanted to do," said Brown. "I wanted to do photos as material."

Indeed, layered two to three photos deep over the walls of a former examination room, the photos have their own topography -- a texture that tells you this isn't mere wallpaper or a simple large printout. As if to remind us of the human element in layering the photos, some of the room remains untouched -- a white sink, electrical outlets and even the water-stained ceiling are left bare.

"I wanted the photos to reflect the environment they were being displayed in," said Brown.

In one way, by creating layers and patterns out of his photographs, Brown is exploring how we see things -- our brain can only process a fraction of what we actually take in, and Brown is challenging that by packing ias much information as he can into each shot and forcing the viewer to then deconstruct it all.

Oddly enough, the room isn't overwhelming, but serene and calm as the blues of the Main Street photo and the soft glow of a light box featuring photos of Highway 59 at the Beltway 8 exchange surround you. Rather than encourage the fury often associated with highway driving, the image is unexpectedly beautiful and soothing.

During its run, visitors have felt similarly at ease in this optical chapel.

"People have asked, will you do this at my house?" said Brown (who, for the record, would).

Optical Chapel is at Mekong Plaza, 2808 Milam, Suite F, through Friday. Viewing is available from 4 p.m. on. If you have any problems getting in, visit Khon's Bar next door. For more information, visit dabfoto.com.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.