Diana Thater. The Sympathetic Imagination

29 Oct 2016 – 8 Jan 2017

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Diana Thater: The Sympathetic Imagination presents a series of immersive film and video installations that push the limit of these media to imagine animal experiences in natural habitats.


In Delphine (1999), for example, LED lights activate the space, while projected film and video footage of dolphins from many angles simulate the animals’ underwater environment, including the ways they perceive it through sonar and sight. The intersection of film and video with installation practices in Thater’s work, which often incorporates viewers’ bodies and even the projectors themselves, is one of the artist’s major contributions to the field of contemporary art.

The colorful installations break out of the video rectangle—often falling somewhere between sculpture and architecture—to imagine fluid worlds of dolphins, dancing bees, and the animals that inhabit the irradiated explosion site at Chernobyl. The most comprehensive survey of the artist’s work to date, the exhibition includes early work Oo Fifi, Five Days in Claude Monet’s Gardens (1992), which breaks footage into the primary colors of video (RGB), as well as the recent work Life is a Time-Based Medium (2015), in which the architecture of the gallery converges with the Galtaji Temple in Jaipur, India, and is populated with monkeys.

Since the early 1990s, Diana Thater (American, b. 1962) has been a pioneer of film and video. Influenced by 1960s films that prioritized medium over narrative and content, she has forged meaningful connections between her subject matter and media to push the physical, optical, and conceptual boundaries of how moving images are experienced. Thater studied art history at New York University and received her MFA from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Her work has been collected by major institutions across the United States.

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Diana Thater


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