For the last thirty years, Diana Thater (b. 1962, San Francisco) has been a pioneer of multimedia art, combining new technologies of the moving image with forms that defy the narrative conventions of film and television. By manipulating color in the exhibition space and using projection screens or monitors as a medium, Thater’s works engage in dialogues with the most iconic names in video art while also addressing the greatest questions and concerns of contemporary culture. One recurring theme in her oeuvre is the extinction of animal species as a result of human activity. Thater uses the camera and projection device to painstakingly explore the contradiction between the desire to observe and the need to represent—in other words, to construct—the identity of the other. Each of her installations therefore hints at the idea of an ecosystem where surfaces, volumes, sounds, atmospheres, and historical memories coexist. A Runaway World (2016–17) features two twin video installations recently produced in Kenya. Each piece, conceived as both a portrait and a landscape, consists of four projections on two intersecting screens in the middle of the gallery, which is also transformed by colored light filters. These works give us a glimpse of the peaceful yet precarious existence of two endangered species, rhinos and elephants, and the illicit economies that threaten their survival.
Photo: Diana Thater, A Runaway World, 2016-2017, Video installation, Dimensions variable, Installation view, The Mistake Room, Los Angeles
Photo Credit: Fredrik Nilsen © Diana Thater and The Mistake Room Inc.)