October 11, 2021
This week we recognize the work of artist Kelly Richardson.
HALO I, II and III are sequels to Camp, a video which presented a cliché of outdoor life filmed in 1998. The full moon on a summer evening is distorted by the heat rising from a crackling campfire. On the fire, popcorn bursts. With each burst, the moon dances.
Twenty-three years after producing Camp, the promise of what summer brings has changed. HALO I presents a full, partially red moon distorted once again by heat rising from something burning and crackling out of shot. Embers float around and smoke swirls.
Past, present and future, the HALO trilogy references the significant feedback loop we are now in after decades of warnings. Campfires are now banned in the summer in British Columbia. With severe, extended droughts being the new normal, the risk of wildfire is extreme. Compounding the threat, 2021 produced record temperatures reaching a staggering 49.6C, smashing the previous record by 4.6C. It is set to be the 3rd worst fire season on record, all of which were recorded within the last 5 years. Simultaneously, the UN declared that it is code red for humanity as a result of climate change.
HALO I, 2021, 4k video, seamless loop, stereo audio HERE.
HALO II, 2021, 4k video, seamless loop, stereo audio HERE.
HALO III, 2021, 4k video, seamless loop, stereo audio HERE.
Embers and the Giants presents an endangered old-growth forest during last light, articulated by thousands of floating embers of light. Initial impressions may be that we are witness to a rare and exceptionally beautiful display of fireflies or the embers from a forest fire out of frame. The longer viewers look, the more evident it becomes that we are not witnessing a natural spectacle. We are witnessing human intervention through thousands of tiny drones mimicking a natural spectacle, suggesting a time when we will need to amplify the spectacle of nature in order to convince the public of its worth.
Embers and the Giants questions our calls for preservation at a time when large-scale environmental breakdown caused by climate change is not a case of if but when. The idea for the work was inspired by two news articles accessed in 2016 about threatened old-growth forests which, after the discovery of a natural spectacle (fireflies and giant trees respectively), successful cases for preservation were argued. Both areas are now extremely popular tourist destinations. In light of the terrifying fallout of continued, large-scale biodiversity loss worldwide, when are vital ecosystems worthy of preservation?
Taking cues from 19th-century landscape painting, 20th-century cinema, and 21st-century planetary research, Kelly Richardson crafts video installations and digital prints that offer imaginative glimpses of the future, prompting careful consideration of the present. From 2003-2017 she resided in northeast England, where she was a Lecturer in Fine Arts at Newcastle University. She currently lives and works as a visitor on the traditional territory of the WSANEC peoples of the Coast Salish Nation on Vancouver Island, Canada. Richardson is a Professor in Visual Arts at the University of Victoria. kellyrichardson.net
Featured Images Above: ©Kelly Richardson, Halo I, II, III, 2021 (stills); Embers and the Giants, 2019, installation documentation.