About

Kelly Richardson is a Canadian artist whose practice mainly includes digitally manipulated large-scale photography and video installation. Drawing on the imagery of science-fiction cinema, literature, and the history of landscape painting, her research focuses on the use of digital technologies to create hyper-real, highly charged landscapes which imagine an array of possible futures for humankind. 

image 1. Kelly Richardson, The Erudition, 2010, 3 screen HD video installation with audio, 48' x 9', Installation view: Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Supported by Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Photo credit: Colin Davison

image 2. Kelly Richardson, Exiles of the Shattered Star, 2006, HD video installation with audio, 16' x 9', Installation view: Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Photo credit: Colin Davison

Mariner 9

“It does not feel as if you are simply looking at a screen with something on it, it feels like you are in the environment on screen.”

Mark Brown, The Guardian

image 3. Kelly Richardson, Mariner 9, 2012, 3 channel HD video installation with 5.1 audio, 43' x 9', Installation view: Spanish City Dome, Commissioned by Pixel Palace at Tyneside Cinema, Photo credit: Colin Davison

Set 200-300 years into the future, and littered with aged, but still partially functioning, remains of actual and imagined missions to the planet, ‘Mariner 9’ is the most faithful, realistic visualisation of Mars’ terrain to date.

The work, an immersive (13.1m by 2.7m) high definition video installation with 5.1 surround sound audio, makes use of computer software employed by the gaming and film industries to interpret data sets of Mars made available by NASA and HiRISE. It also uses innovate edge-blending techniques and 3 technically sophisticated video projectors to create a seamlessly stitched, extended panoramic image.

image 4. Kelly Richardson, Mariner 9, 2012, 3 channel HD video installation with 5.1 audio, 43' x 9', Installation view: Spanish City Dome, Commissioned by Pixel Palace at Tyneside Cinema, Photo credit: Colin Davison

image 5. Kelly Richardson, Mariner 9, 2012, 3 channel HD video installation with 5.1 audio, 43' x 9', Installation view: Natural History Museum Vienna, Commissioned by Pixel Palace at Tyneside Cinema, Photo credit: Natural History Museum Vienna/K. Kracher

Production for ‘Mariner 9’ began as NASA’s Curiosity rover left Earth in November 2011. Expanding upon her previous research, including the large-scale works ‘Leviathan’ and ‘The Erudition’ (both of which incorporated 3 projections on separate screens, rather than one continuous image), Richardson continues to explore the psychological effects of the Apocalyptic Sublime. Used by 18th century painters including John Martin and Turner, and, more recently, in the unprecedented focus on apocalyptic storylines within the film industry, ‘Mariner 9’ draws upon current climate science forecasts to present a future that we are unlikely to survive.

image 6. Kelly Richardson, Leviathan, 2011, 3 screen HD video installation with audio, 48' x 9', Installation view: Artpace San Antonio, Commissioned by Artpace San Antonio, Photo credit: Kelly Richardson

Fusing history, faux-history and science fiction, and pushing the limitations of high definition video over seven technically accomplished stages, including the conversion of topographic data provided by NASA and HiRISE, the faithful, 3D digital construction of historical spacecraft and the creation of a 20 minute digital dust storm previously thought impossible ‘Mariner 9’ was completed 10 months later.

Its world premiere was staged alongside the successful (or unsuccessful) landing of NASA’s Curiosity rover on August 6th 2012. The exhibition, at the Spanish City Dome in Whitley Bay, England, attracted over 10,500 visitors in just over 2 weeks. ‘Mariner 9’ then toured internationally to:

  • The Toronto International Film Festival as part of its ‘Future Projections’ exhibition series
  • The Albright-Knox Art Gallery as part of a major 15-year retrospective of Richardson’s work
  • Nuit Blanche, Toronto, where an estimated 750,000 people viewed the work
  • The Naturhistorishes Museum, Wien, alongside an exhibition questioning the future of humanity entitled ‘Trading in Death - the Final Mass Extinction?

image 7. Kelly Richardson, Mariner 9, 2012, 3 channel HD video installation with 5.1 audio, 48' x 10', Installation view: Nuit Blanche Toronto, Commissioned by Pixel Palace at Tyneside Cinema, Photo credit: Kelly Richardson

Allowing viewers to virtually experience our collective, potential future, ‘Mariner 9’ provides a window through which to both appreciate our current environment, and to articulate one of the most important threats humanity has ever faced: our increasingly uncertain future due to humanity’s excessive alteration of our environment. Through her updated exploration of the sublime, Richardson questions the endeavor to discover life beyond our own planet, and our simultaneous systematic and willful contribution to untold loss of life on Earth.

Commissioned by Pixel Palace at Tyneside Cinema with additional support from Canada Council for the Arts and Arts Council England, ‘Mariner 9’ was produced in consultation with Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at NASA, HiRISE at the University of Arizona, The Planetary Society and the developers for Terragen, 3D software.

Current Work

Building on ideas and techniques explored within 'Mariner 9', Richardson’s current practice is focused on the creation of a series of works entitled 'The Last Frontier' and ‘Orion Tide’ alongside research and development for a number of large scale, increasingly ambitious video installations and C-prints. 'Mariner 9' continues to exhibit internationally with a number of high profile venues programmed over the next few years. 

image 8. Kelly Richardson, The Last Frontier, 2013, HD video installation with audio, 16' x 9', Installation view: Bankhill Ice House/Berwick Film and Media Festival, Commissioned by VARC with support from Arts Council England and Canada Council for the Arts, Photo credit: Kelly Richardson

image 9. Kelly Richardson, Orion Tide, 2013, HD video installation with audio, 16' x 9', Installation view: Birch Libralato, Supported by Arts Council England and Canada Council for the Arts, Photo credit: Kelly Richardson

Further Information