My process involves the collection and reassembly of discarded materials. A recurring theme thatunites my work is reassigned (or voided) utility through a new context, and I work in several media—sculpture, video, drawing and performance. I scavenge large plastic appliances or electronics lying in the street or in garbage bins. By harnessing discarded materials, I utilize waste rather than produce it. Amidst the detritus that is continuously thrown away in a consumerist society, I search for connections and relationships between materials and concepts.
Lately, my work has taken a new direction: a mash-up of video, performance, sculptural assemblage and custom electronics. One example of this approach is a project entitled Simulsuck. This piece utilizes a custom video controller composed of discarded vacuum cleaners. The controller houses interactive electronic meters and dials that feed information such as volume and rate into the computer program Max/MSP/Jitter. The program then outputs the video while altering it according to the incoming data. For the video component, I gathered television commercials for cleaning products, such as mops, sprays, sponges and, of course, vacuum cleaners. The result is a rhythm-based, improvisational musical performance.
Another piece, Wobble Tumble Slide, also combines video, performance and sculpture, and it relies entirely on audience interaction. Rather than involving one performer and one controller, this new installation consists of three controllers, three video channels and multiple performers. When viewers enter the installation, the video screen shows a silent instructional loop. By picking up the sculptures and manipulating them by shaking, rocking and otherwise interacting with the moving parts, participants alter and edit the sound and appearance of the projected video clips. Like Simulsuck, Wobble Tumble Slide is a performance, but a performance that requires the participation of the viewer. The audience member is simultaneously the viewer and performer.
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Simulsuck, found video clips, discarded vacuum cleaners, custom electronics and software, dimensions variable, 2009, (3 minutes): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgoww_yDyl4
Wobble Tumble, Slide, found video clips, discarded plastic, custom electronics and software, dimensions variable, 2010, (2 minutes): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11q7pqIOXvY
Swimming in Place, discarded plastic, stop-motion animation loop. (1 minute): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQvwXRcb_KM
After calling the Detroit, Michigan area home for a number of years, Mike Richison relocated to New Jersey in 2007. He is currently a professor at Monmouth University where he teaches Motion Graphics, History of Graphic Design and Typography. He is a multimedia artist who utilizes a variety of media and approaches including graphic design, video, sculpture, printmaking, drawing and installation. He has exhibited and performed at several venues in the New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Detroit areas. To view more of his work, please visit www.mikerichison.com.