Galleries West
Supernatural: Art, Technology and the Forest

Kelly Richardson’s exceptional video installation adds mystery to a mostly earnest group show that considers how photography has shaped human understandings of the West Coast forest.

June 1, 2018

The earnest quality of Supernatural: Art, Technology and the Forest, on view at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, is suggested by the tail of its title. The juxtaposition of the words “technology” and “forest” makes one think of logging and, perhaps, dams, mines and other hinterland infrastructure. Human impositions on nature are indeed reflected in this show, but its focus is actually photo-based technologies and how the camera’s gaze has shaped human relationships with wooded terrain, particularly on the West Coast.

The title’s lead-in word “supernatural” is more enticing, despite its echo of British Columbia’s tourism branding, and is particularly reflected in one magnificent work, Kelly Richardson’s The Erudition, a floor-to-ceiling video installation. It shows an arid almost lunar landscape with little vegetation apart from holographic trees that flicker in an ethereal electric blue. They billow and sweep in the wind as stars pass overhead.

Every so often, in a flash, a tree disappears or another appears like some kind of sci-fi apparition. There’s audio of static and the technology seems jumpy, like it’s teetering on the edge of obsolescence. It’s easy to become mesmerized, the way one can in front of a large aquarium. I find myself thinking about manufactured landscapes, space travel,  futuristic nostalgia and a post-apocalyptic world. It’s obvious why Richardson, recently hired to teach at the University of Victoria, has drawn attention for her environmentally themed work.

Full review here