Room on Mars
September 6 through 21
Friday, September 6, 6-9pm
Wayfarers is pleased to present Room on Mars, the culminating project of our 2019 summer Artist In Residence, Kathleen McDermott. McDermott’s inventions are mostly functional, but the fictions built around them complicate their relationship to reality. Room on Mars features a living family of robotically-aided houseplants on a simulated trip to Mars, mulling over questions such as Is there enough space in space? And Is it my fault we were expelled from Eden? Room on Mars explores McDermott’s begrudging acknowledgement of the fact that her playful critiques of techno-solutionism have yet to solve any real problems.
Room on Mars consists of a faux construction site built in front of the gallery, with a small viewing window facing the sidewalk. Within the wooden pen, three planted terrariums fitted into robots roam among a simulation of Mars, in search of sunlight. The collaged backdrop combines images from NASA’s Mars Rover with visions of Mars from the public imagination––science fiction and the American Southwest. A CCTV camera transmits video of the simulation into the gallery, causing the image to degrade. The live feed is intermittently interrupted by text and pre-recorded video, alluding to the difficulty of categorizing the status of simulation, in a world where all media is suspect.
Kathleen McDermott is a media artist with a background in installation and sculpture. She uses a combination of textiles, sculptural materials and open-source electronics to create absurd mechanical objects that aim to explore the relationship between human bodies and technology, in both real and imagined scenarios. She holds a BFA in Sculpture from Cornell University, an MFA in Creative Media from City University of Hong Kong, and a Ph.D. in Electronic Arts from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). She is currently an Industry Assistant Professor of Integrated Digital Media (IDM) at NYU Tandon, in the department of Technology, Culture, and Society (TCS). Her work has been featured in a range of major publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, and Dezeen, and has been exhibited internationally.