Artist

Catherine Richards

My interventions in the territory of art, culture and new technologies span 15 years of work deliberately crossing many boundaries of art practice, theoretical projects and primary research.

Since my formal university education in the visual arts and English literature I have initiated a program of independent practical scholarship and art practice. Many developments in computer-based imaging are sufficiently recent that they have only begun to be studied within the visual arts discipline. Consequently I gathered primary research by visiting and interviewing scientists at key new technology research institutions and university labs across North America and Europe.

My production work received grants from the Canada Council and the Ontario Arts Council. During the fall of 1991, I produced my virtual reality (VR) piece Spectral Bodies with the first Virtual Reality system in Canada at the computer science department, University of Alberta. For this piece I also worked with Professor James Lackner, Director of the Ashton Graybiel Spactial Orientation Laboratory, Brandels University, Boston.

In 1993, I received the Canada Council for the Arts' Petro-Canada award for Media Arts, given every 2 years, to an artist who has demonstrated outstanding and innovative use of new technologies in media arts.

I was responsible for projects which investigate the relation o f postmodern and cultural theory to new imaging technologies, issues in current art practice and feminist theory. I co-direct Project 0.1.0 at ARTEXTE, Montreal, Canada, which develops a bibliography and reference library documenting this interdisciplinary area. I was responsible for initiating and co-chairing the Bioapparatus, 1991, an artists' residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts, Alberta, Canada, on the subject of art and the intimacy of the body with new technologies. The Bioapparatus residency produced artists' works and a publication of the proceedings of a two-day seminar. In 1992 the Bioapparatus project received the Canadian Conference of the Arts Korel Prize for innovative projects in arts and new technologies.

I intervene in the debate on culture, art and new technologies in a number of other ways. At the American Film Institute's Video Festival in Los Angeles, in 1987, I initiated, to my knowledge, the first public forum within the art domain between postmodern theorists, the scientists developing simulation and virtual technologies and the arts. This panel discussion and my photo piece "Body In Ruins" (1986) about the ambiguity of the body in virtual reality was the basis for the European video program "Body in Ruins" in which I collaborated and explored the permeable boundary between fiction and science developments in computer labs. This production has been shown at many festivals in Europe and North America.

In 1988, I co-initiated "The New Museum," a project about the nature and ideology of visual display. The project examined museums as a form of mass medium and explored correspondences between visual arts museums, television and visual computer technologies. The other core partners were: Chris Dercon (now, director of the de Witte, museum, Holland), Stefaan Decostere (television director, Belgium) and John Wyver (independent television producer, "Illuminations," London, producer of the series "State of the Arts" for Channel Four).

I was invited to speak at many conferences in both North America and in Europe, including the Institute of Contemporary Art's conference in "Culture, Technology and Creativity" at the ICA in London, England, where I took issues with the current mythologizing of virtual reality technology and Japan '92, the Third Video Festival in Tokyo. I published a limited number of articles and expect to increasingly write on this subject. This year I was invited to contribute to a catalogue on the media arts to be published by the Banff Centre for the Arts and to Semiotext(e)'s special edition on Canada.

Videography

Spectral Bodies

1991, 05:30 minutes, colour, English

Critical Writing

Time, Space & Realities
by Andrew J. Paterson. Time, Space & Realities, Jan. 1995. Toronto: A Space, 1995.
Time, Space and Realities
by Andrew Patterson. Parallelogramme, 1994, v. 20, no. 3.
Virtual Bodies: What a blow that phantom gave me
by Catherine Richards. Angles of Incidence: reflections of multimedia artworks, 1993. Banff: Banff Centre for the Arts, 1993.
Virtual Worlds Digital Images
by Catherine Richards. American Film Institute Video Festival, 1987. New York: American Film Institute, 1987.