How might Mars look like a hundred years in the future, after we have sent dozens of rovers to explore the planet? That is the idea that Canadian digital media artist Kelly Richardson wanted to explore in her new animated video installation Mariner 9. The piece début earlier this month at the Spanish City in Whitley Bay, UK, and will have its North American première at next month’s Toronto International Film Festival as part of their Future Projections exhibit. In interviews, Kelly Richardson said that she referenced data and imagery from NASA missions to help recreate the topography of her speculative future, but the goal of this research was not so much strict accuracy as authenticity. She modelled and animated the landscape with Tarragon software, and used Light wave to create the vehicles. The 20-minute piece is projected on a panoramic 39-foot screen. In the words of the artist, “Mariner 9″
The question becomes then whether these animated canvases constitute a unique development in animation art. They certainly extend the medium beyond a linear cinematic experience. However, in the case of Kelly Richardson Mariner 9, the same detailed still landscape with subtle animated variations and accompanying sounds cape be achieved simply by remaining motionless in any number of CGI computer games. If those games were projected onto a panoramic screen, it would achieve a similar effect. If a piece like Mariner 9″ is not exactly revolutionary, it at least uses animation in a new context and directs it toward a different end, which is not a bad thing.