Tasman Richardson’s recent installation at Neubacher Shor Contemporary was yet another example of Richardson's adeptness to develop video, sound and installation, entrapping our senses. The installation asked us to face our own mortality, to contemplate the elemental aspects of our lives. Approaching the circle (installation) in the dark gallery space, it felt almost like you were entering a game of survival. The circle of protection made from broken mirror is an invisible barrier between you and the fate at hand. The vintage versions of televisions are electronically strapped together to create a visual and auditory symphony of sorts. The varying voltage snaps and whirls, building tension while you wait for your next near death experience. Once you step out of the circle anything can happen, nothing will ever be the same again. The next participant enters, enabling you to witness / gawk at their experience from the other side.
Is Richardson offering a second chance, an introspection of sorts to an inner reality or non reality? Sphere of Influence, Circle of Protection goes beyond the obvious questions concerning life and death. Probing how we relate to one another, to the world around us, involving every living and nonliving thing.
Laura Horne-Gaul, November 20th, 2015
TUSSLE: What is the significance of the circle and the number of screens vs televisions used?
Tasman Richardson: I wanted to tie in the occult and antiquated myths of control to contrast with the contemporary myths of influence and empowerment.
In the case of the numbers, there are six screens with one opening, all of equal size. by placing the projectors on the intersections or corners of the heptagon, the light from each lens intersects perfectly to create a seven sided star. I wanted to hint at the apocalyptic nature of personal catastrophe. Book of revelations, seven seals, that sort of thing. There are twelve televisions within that circle. There are four unique signals that are multiplied three times each. That makes four sets of three to complete the circle of twelve. A reference to the zodiac and four seasons or elemental signs of the zodiac. This is another kind of myth of self control and empowerment. The circle in the center, at the heart of it all, is made of hundreds of broken mirror fragments. This was to hint at both the fragmented nature of video but also the inherent narcissism of the medium. I hoped it would be a more obvious form of protective ring similar to the salt circles used in ancient times to ward off or clear a space. This idea of clearing a space for the individual, a space impervious to outside influence is even more relevant today.
TUSSLE: It seems as though process is a significant aspect to your work, can you expand on how this piece was planed and then executed?
TR: The piece was initially conceived as three separate rings to fill the gallery more evenly. Previously I'd made installations that were more linear that led audiences along a path. I always begin by illustrating the floorplan and then playing with the modular components until I feel everything has a deliberate and optimal relationship. In this case, I modified each piece to fit inside the other. A kind of Russian nesting doll design. It made more sense since the work is about influence vs. protection, a series of moats to describe permission, absorption, and rejection. Having them radiate inward and outward worked well in the birds' eye view and I could play with the geometry in Adobe Illustrator. The ring of televisions was a midi controlled dimmer switch, an electronic video drum machine of sorts. I developed the signal and manipulation work over years of playing with Atari 2600s and attempting to record the footage. In the past few years I worked with a close friend, Bruno Ribeiro to control the signal live as it was generated. The finished instrument was called Hydra. Having performed with it, making duets with Bruno and finally, composing on my own with tvs stacked in my bedroom I felt it was ready, and stable enough to convert into an installation that performed without me. Although it seems like I experiment a lot, I really don't. I begin with a subject and a specific experience I'd like to invoke, and then I just collect or develop all the catalysts required. I test them on myself, and my friends, and when it feels effective, I work with my chief installer to translate it into a workable set up. Mike law or edmund law as he sometimes goes by is amazing. He practically reads my mind and then finds ways to translate the drawings and components into stable constructed realities. He's an essential collaborator in my process.
TUSSLE: What is the thought process that you would like the viewer to have after their own mortality has been imposed on them?
TR: The work is morbid but it's meant to be life affirming. Most of my work is a criticism of the medium I'm using. Ideally, I hope it's a conversation starter about living outside the spectacle, living within your own memories independent of torrent of exhibitionism, independent of parasitic, anonymous voyeurism. I'd just like people to feel more self aware and less interdependent on digital reflections.
TUSSLE: What are your future plans for this installation?
TR: Currently, it's stacked in a heap along with all my other works, in every conceivable nook and closet in my tiny apartment! no joke, I even stacked some tvs behind the living room door which turned out to be a great hiding spot. I would love to show it again, It would have to be somewhere you can drive to though. The nice thing is, I own nearly all the equipment so it's relatively cheap to build. It would be nice to show in a museum with heavy traffic or even as part of a media focused festival. Possibly in Montreal? It could be interesting to source tvs locally from city to city. I'm going to share the documentation with a few people that I'm hoping it'll resonate with. fingers crossed!