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Mariner 9


Client: Kelly Richardson
43 foot x 9 foot video art installation with 5.1 audio
Originally commissioned by Tyneside Cinema, UK

Mariner 9 presents a panoramic view of a Martian landscape set hundreds of years in the future, littered with the rusting remains from various missions to the planet. Despite its suggested abandoned state, several of the spacecraft continue to partially function, to do their intended jobs, to ultimately find signs of life whilst transmitting the data back to a planet where no one is left to receive it.

Mariner 9 was created using scenery-generation software employed by the film and gaming industries in combination with technical data from NASA’s missions to Mars to produce a faithful artist’s rendering of Martian terrain, populated by the debris from centuries of exploration through real and imagined spacecraft in the centre of a dust storm. “Cinematic tropes of sci-fi films abound, but any search for a clear narrative is frustrated. Presented with minimal action, we wonder instead about the search for life beyond our own planet and the simultaneous destruction of life on earth.” (Laurel MacMillan, Programmer for TIFF Future Projections)

Coinciding with the landing of NASA’s Mars Science Labroratory aka “Curiosity” on the planet at the beginning of August 2012, in a 12-metre long panoramic installation Richardson’s Mariner 9 saw its world premiere in the raw splendour of the Spanish City Dome in Whitley Bay.

Supported by Arts Council England, Canada Council for the Arts, NASA, NewTek and Planetside Software
Photo credits: Colin Davison