Deceptively similar to film or video, his works are simulations: virtual, graphical worlds that exist outside of physical time. Often exploring geographically isolated locations—be they the agrarian American Great Plains, remote reaches of the Gobi Desert, or military exercise sites in Djibouti—Gerrard’s works frequently refer to structures of power and networks of energy that have coincided with the expansion of human endeavor in the past century. Appropriately, they rely on technologies that were originally developed for military use before being widely applied to gaming.
Gerrard’s first exhibition in China features three recent, major works. Farm (Pryor Creek, Oklahoma) (2015) is a digitally modeled composite of one of Google’s server centers in Oklahoma. Exercise (Dunhuang) (2014), a reconstruction based on satellite imagery of a system of roadways located mysteriously in the middle of the Gobi Desert, which then becomes the site for a lengthy elimination game played among avatars modeled on factory workers in Guangzhou. Solar Reserve (Tonopah, Nevada) 2014 is a painstakingly accurate, virtual portrait of a functioning solar farm, widely admired for its dramatic presentation in the Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, in late 2014. Together the works raise important questions not only about key issues of the present historical moment, but about the very nature of the work of art in the digital age.