Demetrius Oliver is elusive about the references in his work, but, for me, a clear possibility for his Ember series, of which there are nine, all dating from 2008, is Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. Ellison's narrator fills his living space with 1,369 light bulbs and siphons electricity off the electric company. He describes it: “My hole is warm and full of light. Yes, full of light. I doubt if there is a brighter spot in all New York than this hole of mine, and I do not exclude Broadway. Or the Empire State Building on a photographer’s dream night.” The image, even in our mind’s eye, is blinding, and the necessity of all this light for the narrator, who uses the condition of being invisible as a metaphor for being black in America, is thusly made poignant to an extreme. "Light confirms my reality, gives birth to my form,” he says later. Compare this scene with a statement provided by Oliver: “The Ember photographs are created by projecting slide images onto lightbulbs. Both the images and the bulbs used in the making of the photographs are taken from hotel rooms and apartments I have occupied.” His action here—a formal move applied to Ellison’s text—is stunning in its simplicity: he has taken Ellison’s depiction and turned it inside out. The resulting Ember images, austere, beguiling, downright difficult to decipher, reverberate with potential readings and meanings that align with one another, contradict one another, and lead down unexpected paths that resonate long after I have looked at them.