Kelly Richardson: Legion — Futuristic Art in Buffalo by Stephanie Cloutier

Buffalo, New York, is home to a many great things: chicken wings, affordable beer, cross-border shopping, Art Deco architecture, and lastly, art.

I followed the QEW down to Buffalo’s beautiful and historic Albright-Knox Art Gallery to see a retrospective of Kelly Richardson’s work called Kelly Richardson: Legion.

Richardson is a Canadian-born, UK-based artist, and her work explores her love of landscapes, cinema and sci-fi through the use of photography, animation and sound. The mid-career retrospective is a collection of audio-visual wonderlands and post-apocalyptic scenery that's ethereal and haunting.

Her latest project, Mariner 9, is an audio-visual installation piece — 43 feet long and 9 feet high. Set on Mars in the possible future, abandoned satellites and rubble from space exploration litter the landscape yet signs of life and work can still be seen. It’s a sensory experience that will envelop you as soon as you step into the room.

Despite the fact that no human has set foot on Mars, you are instantly transported to the Red Planet. You can imagine feeling the sand brush up against your skin as you hear and see the wind sweep the debris across the landscape. Signs of life appear as flickering lights and cranes work in the background. All the while, the rhythmic hums of machinery and the hallowed noise from the atmosphere suggest that life continues to exist on this desolate planet. It’s an amazing visual tapestry.

What really knocks your socks off is that the installation was digitally produced pixel by pixel. By filming in similar-looking locations on Earth and using data from NASA’s explorations to Mars, Richardson was able to create the photorealistic texture of sand and rocks in her digital piece. Coincidentally, Mariner 9 was launched when NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars in August 2012.

Kelly Richardson: Legion is a multi-sensory exploration into Richardson’s strong body of work. Be prepared to be enraptured.

Kelly Richardson: Legion is on now at the Albright-Knox Gallery until June 9, 2013. The tour will end at the Contemporary Art Gallery Vancouver.


Kelly Richardson (Canadian, born 1972). Installation view of Mariner 9, 2012. Three-channel high-definition video installation with 5.1 audio. Running time: 20 minutes. Originally commissioned by Tyneside Cinema, UK. Image courtesy the artist and Birch Libralato. Photograph by Colin Davison.
Stephanie Cloutier is a photographer, writer, and a wannabe lady of leisure. Her work has appeared in NOW Magazine, blogTO and SoundProof Magazine. You can find her posts here, find more of her work on her website here, follow her on Twitter (@stephcloutier) and e-mail her at


Holly Lulu said...

Hi! Just want to clarify that "Mariner 9" did not use any preexisting imagery as its basis. Unlike previous works by the artists, which did incorporate a process of filming in a location, sometimes more than one, "Mariner 9" is a complete shift in her process. Instead of filming in similar locations on Earth, of which there are none, it was the data that helped to develop the terrain and she also did "reference" images taken from rovers and satellites, but they were not used as an actual basis for the final work. Thanks so much for coming to Buffalo to see the show!

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