In her new two-channel video installation Orion Tide (2014), Kelly Richardson draws on the aesthetics of sci-fi films to create a landscape that is both hyperreal and surreal, where the distinction between fact and fiction is blurred and where the real cannot be differentiated from what is computer-generated.
Orion Tide depicts a spectacularly beautiful landscape, sublime and apocalyptic. It immerses us in an expanse of desert littered with traces of human activity, out of which lit pods erupt, one after another, ascending into a deep-blue star-filled sky. Are these strange volcanic eruptions, traces of a dying planet, military exercises or tiny spaceships carrying survivors to a distant land? Painstakingly editing documentary footage, stock imagery and digital effects, the artist has created a cinematic landscape infused with the qualities of eighteenth-century Apocalyptic Sublime paintings. The highly crafted soundtrack, evoking distant liftoffs or the thud of trees falling in the forest, heightens the ambiguity of the dual-channel video projection. Are we in a projected future, a distant past or an imaginary blending of the two? Is this a scene of environmental disaster or alien invasion? Richardson leaves these questions open, allowing viewers to project themselves into these illusive spaces.