Curator's Corner

Spring Illusion

By Karl Cole, posted on May 4, 2020

In a time in history when we could all use either a vacation, a walk in the park (six feet apart, of course), or just an escape to one of Star Trek’s “shore leave” planets, we can look at art that helps us get out of our dismal quarantine. The first time I saw Kelly Richardson’s installation Leviathan, I felt like I wanted to either crawl right into it or stand in the gallery for about two hours to watch it over and over. It’s so lovely, and it’s an example of how technology mixed with good old-fashioned art forms make truly unique art. And, she totally understands how viewing a landscape—whether real or constructed—can affect our senses.

Kelly Richardson (born 1972, U.S.), Leviathan, 2011.
Kelly Richardson (born 1972, U.S.), Leviathan, 2011. 3-channel, high-definition video installation with stereo sound, 20-minute loop. Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY. © 2020 Kelly Richardson. (AK-2976)


For an installation at Artspace San Antonio in 2011, Richardson created an immersive work called Leviathan. It was a high-definition, multi-channel video installation on the subject of the cypress forest in Caddo Lake, Uncertain, TX. This lake was the first site for over-water oil exploration (1910). Richardson explored the lake for four days with still and video cameras. Through digital manipulation, she inserted twisting tendrils of electric light, alluding to an unknown creature or force.  

Richardson, born in Burlington, Ontario, explores the idea that the line between the real world and simulated worlds are increasingly blurred. Called the "hyper-real," Richardson creates new media installations that highlight the human connection to landscapes. Using animation, sound, and other techniques, Richardson constructs atmospheric scenes both touched by human activity and lacking human presence. Perhaps a glimpse into a post-human future, Richardson's works reference grand landscapes of the past, science fiction narratives, and surreal imaginings.

View more work by Kelly Richardson on her website: