Rick Silva

Rick Silva

Work from his oeuvre.

Silva’s trilogy (as presented here) is a sampling of his work that I feel addresses similar aesthetic and conceptual concerns while maintaining a dynamic and evolving approach in the discussion of place, technology, and perception placed within the context of a developing method of inquiry. The phrenetic pace of the introduction to Colorado (and Silva’s oeuvre) is a calibration for the rest of the work, making the opening sequence a flawless rendition of the futurepast, a visual throwback to the future we were promised by Max Headroom and other visionaries. 

The technologically specific dating of the work provides instant context, yet doesn’t weigh down or forcibly date the work, and provides us with a foothold for consideration. The techno-nostalgia is a point of access to a work that otherwise seems to deny itself to the viewer (this is a theme in many of Silva’s works). I am not arguing that we are not to understand these works, nor that they require an inordinate amount of time to appreciate, however, I also do not believe that the duration of any of these pieces lacks consideration. In a function very similar to the animated gif, the sinusoidal repetition of the videos encourages a trance-like state of perception where we mesmerized by the hypnotic repetition, jarred by the rapid-fire rotation of the world we had been immersed in, and thrown back into a locked-in gaze.

Massif, while keeping pace with Colorado, is a calmer piece. The video is comprised of over 17,000 unique variations, of what I believe is the Matterhorn, rapidly sequenced with the setting sun and base being grounding constants. Watching the piece in its entirety induces a state of meditation which led me of all places to Tatlin’s Tower. It is in this second video (unless you watched A Rough Mix already) where technology and nature begin to compete, with technology generally intervening on, and eventually replacing (Krummholz Formation) all aspects of nature in the works. It is in this transformation that I understand Massif. I approach it as a metamorphosis from technological understandings of / interventions onto nature (Colorado) to a synthetic replacement of our relationships to place and our groundings in reality. Granted, this seems a little bit of a stretch, and while I can not articulate a better argument at the moment, this one feels adequate at the moment, but still incomplete.

The newest of the works, Krummholz Formation, is a walking meditation in the waiting room in a doctors office of a dystopian future imagined by George Orwell (a far less comforting futurepast). The rhythmically swaying trees are renderings from the video game engine Unity, although their artificial nature is only betrayed by their trunks on a few occasions. Again we encounter partial access to nature through technological means, as the trees sway in and out of the seemingly narrowly defined plane they are permitted to exist on, yet can only do so by passing through.

This theme echoes how the vast majority of video works are consumed, on the Internet or otherwise, particularly with the vast majority of readily accessible, highly referential new media works. Silva’s works, however, seem to encourage participation rather than decoding. Do it.

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