Keywords for my art practice are innovation, aesthetic treatments, platform agnostic, and user experience design. I am a long standing Sydney media artist who has been innovating with film, video and interactive multimedia for 25 years. Working in collaboration and alone in Australia and internationally, my media artworks have widely leveraged most new media platforms and channels, from generative software (sub_scape with Sarah Waterson 2004-2006), Second Life multiple user world (Macbeth in 2nd Life 2014) to interactive projections (Bystander 2007, Live After Wartime Live with The Necks 2003, Encoded with Stalker Theatre Co 2011, Bloodbath 2010), and VR (The Rocks VR 2016, Bandami Web GL commission 2017). My groundbreaking collaborations include the pre-eminent Australian database imaginaries project, Life After Wartime (with Ross Gibson, the live-streamed gaming and social engagement project Wayfarer (with Martyn Coutts 2007-2009 voted one of the top 10 “simple, brilliant initiatives, enterprises and ideas that get on with the job of triggering and networking public association for public good” by influential blogger David Barrie in 2008.); a world’s first virtual and interactive Shakespeare in the Second Life project in Foul Whisperings, Strange Matters (with Kereen Ely Harper and Angela Thomas 2008); the live data visualisation and poetics engine ‘sub_scape’ (with Sarah Waterson 2003-2007), and the live video and roller derby data event Bloodbath in association with the Sydney Roller Derby League which premiered at Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion in 2011 (with Linda Dement, Sarah Waterson, Nancy Mauro Flude and Francesca di Rimini). I have exhibited at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, The Performance Space at Carriageworks, the Blake Prize Director’s Cut, The Australian Centre for Photography, The Centre for Contemporary Photography Melbourne, the International Symposium for Electronic Art Sydney, Belfast and Helsinki, Experimenta, the Art Gallery of NSW and the Sydney Opera House amongst others. As a new media dramaturge, I have brought considerable experience to theatre groups such as Sydney’s Urban Theatre Projects and Stalker. I have also produced multimedia projects for a variety of clients including Badanami Centre for Indigenous Education, Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, Sydney Olympic Park, The Australian War Memorial, Landini Associates, the Museum of Sydney and the Justice and Police Museum. In 2018 I was busy with projects including producing and co-writing/editing a 3 channel video installation A Drone Opera (CarriageWorks 2019), consulting on a VIVE VR project for Urban Theatre Projects and co-devising the VR engine FoVoE. I am the Post Graduate Co-ordinator for Creative Industries at Western Sydney University and leader of Western’s Experiential and Immersive Research Lab. For a full biography and bibliography please go to http://katerichards.net/biography/
‘The lowlands flood’, the Booroborwongal clan warned the invaders. They settled anyway; floods regularly devastated the Hawkesbury colonists from 1780. In FLOOD, users in a CGI night-time flood-scape stand in rising and ebbing waters. Grasping luminescent pre- and post-contact objects suspended in the swirling darkness, triggers tales from many perspectives.
Floods are artistic and unconscious/dream metaphors for great forces sweeping away eras and structures, the turning-upside-down of the known world, the fear and horror of what lies beneath, of being dragged under and swept away. Invasion swept away so much of the culture, lives, crops, hunting and infrastructure of the Booroborwongal. The colonists’ destruction, clearing and ‘farming’ exacerbated flooding, the great river takes its revenge over and over.
Aesthetically, FLOOD is dark waters, atmospheric, mesmerising. Illumination comes from an aesthetic and design strategy in which local natural materials (bark, insects, fish scales, minerals, fur, cotton) are scanned using confocal microscopy which captures their natural luminescence. This bio-luminescence will be used to animate, texture and bring alive the night-time flood-scape and objects. The bio-luminescence represents the life forces of objects made from natural materials and that of the land itself. The water is made volumetric by swarms of fish and/or smaller debris.
The FLOOD user experience is to stand thigh-deep in the edge of the ebbing and flowing waters, feeling their force with the racket of the flood in your ears, the waters stretching into the dark infinity. There is a forest behind, sentry-like. In the water, you can spot suspended objects, alive with bio-luminescence, bedevilled by water spirits, flowing towards and slipping away from you. An indigenous tool, a nightdress, an old tin, a school pin. You grasp to hold the objects – with your right hand, a Dharug voice speaks; with your left, you hear a colonist. The voices rise and mingle with the flood; very close, or sweeping around, whispering secrets, fears, truths, hopes, anger.
Single Channel HD video duration 7’40 sec stereo audio. Reverie was selected for The Director’s Cut, The Blake Prize 2015.
Reverie is a single channel video made in 2015 at the international artist’s residency Intercreate – SCANZ in New Plymouth, NZ. The residency theme was “Water and Peace”. Reverie draws on Islamic and indigenous spiritual traditions of non-figurative pattern-making from nature, as an aid to contemplation, lucid dreaming and meditation. Comprising video shot at the mouth and at the head waters of the sacred Oakura River in the Taranaki, NZ, and percussion by drummer Jeff Wegener, Reverie deploys gently changeful rhythms and dynamics, embodying the infinite self-similarity yet constant variance of watery forms as they unfold across time.
The work operates on affective, pre-cognitive levels. The subtle but constant variances of water – influenced by turbidity, surface tension, light refraction, wind, angle – contained and refracted within the kaleidoscopic form, are intended to evoke a stimulating yet meditative experience – a short term detachment from one’s surroundings, in short a reverie.
At the same time, water is a universal metaphor for consciousness, perception and feeling. Water features in many cultures as a symbol for abundance, transformation and depth potential, from the clearest fresh running stream, to the darkest ocean valley, manifesting in the stories and shapes of water gods, goddesses and creatures – some personifying the dangers of visiting ‘the depths’, others celebrating the brave spirit of those who do. Some – like Neptune of the western pantheon – represent both the beauty and intensity of grand illusion, and the crashing depths of dis-illusion. With its soulful combination of constancy, ubiquity and infinite variance, water is used to self-communicate our state of consciousness.
Recalling the myth of Icarus, A Drone Opera charts the wonder and potential of a magical new technology, the attendant moral panic and the hubris that sabotages the initial promise. Drawing on the secretive subculture of DIY drone-makers, researchers and hackers,
A Drone Opera explores the role of drone technology and its complex and contested status in public life.
Multi-channel installation from the Life After Wartime suite.
Seven channels of video in a Neo Georgian house in Sydney’s Rocks.
Commissioned by the International Symposium of Electronic Art (ISEA) Sydney and Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (SHFA)
An installation comprised of an array of computer controlled lights, haze, rubber crumb, rock salt.
“Gondwana” is a galaxy of the imagination created using astronomical visualisations from the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Mt Stromlo, Canberra. It is a playful riff on astronomical data, scientific research, cosmology and allegorical discourses.
Realised in a games engine by James Hudson of Nocturnal, with an immersive interactive interface using handheld navigation and augmented reality ‘heads up’ display.
Astronomical visualisations are combined in aesthetic, striking and original ways. The galaxy is complete with fictional constellations imagined for the southern skies. My aim is to explore the premise that the universe is complex and ecological in the sense of a generative system – it is outcome and process. The universe is not just an engineering equation but is informed by creative intelligence, ordering principles, patterns, significance and aesthetics. Does it posses a kind of intelligence with aesthetic qualities as well as mathematical ones? What can folk sciences and naive ontologies offer current astrophysical problems? How can we come to terms with a universe that is expanding and accelerating, from each point in it? I am working experimentally with astronomical visualisations (3d), scientific language, cosmology (current theoretical dilemmas of mythical proportions) and folk sciences (Aboriginal and classical), to explore the gaps and connections between science and spirituality, fact and speculation. Exhibited at DreamWorlds – Australian Moving Image in Beijing and regional China 2010. http://www.dreamworlds.com.au/
Developed during a residency at the Research School for Astronomy and Astrophysics, ANU with help from Professor Brian Schmidt and James Hudson from Nocturnal.
Based on the early 20Cth physics axiom by Heisenberg, wake is the 2nd iteration of Richards’ project The Uncertainty Principle. A first version of 32 Meditations… was exhibited at ‘Outside Isea’ in Belfast in 2009, in a shipping container.
All ports have an isomorphic relationship to each other – they are connected by the flows of people, goods, stories and songs. These geopolitical links create a worldwide network that transverses oceans, continents and hemispheres. Every port attains the universal feel of an inter-zone, a liminal interface of comings and goings, yet still retains its own character.
In wake visitors enter the shipping container and see footage of world famous ports – Belfast, Singapore, Montreal, Sydney, New York, Vancouver, Bangkok and Barcelona. Shot by the artist from boats and ships, these miniature viewpoints create an affective connection with the network of ports round the world. The shipping container is a metaphor for all the people, goods and stories that have crossed the seas over the years.
Brad Miller initially developed augment_me during a research residency at Artspace in 2004. As part of that research, he interviewed a number of young people about identity and materialism, leading to further research on the self in relation to additions or supplements. It seems that the self must be augmented, must be adorned and the reason the self must be augmented is that it is seen as inadequate for the tasks at hand. Thus began the process of materialising a critique of desire and augmentation using his own self as the locus of concern.
augment_me is comprised of a responsive database of images, sound and videos, accumulated over the past 8 years. Forming sequences in response to audience movement and position, these data ‘moments’ are animated by the augment_me software according to a set of rules applied to a live video camera feed, and then sequentially embedded into a strip of images presented horizontally. These ‘moments’ and their aggregation track relationships with people, places and moments of the everyday, intrinsically measuring change or transformation to produce a kind of memory machine — an attempt at resisting external ideas of what might be augmented.