In Landscape Sculpture, David Clarkson exhibits objects and drawings that combine new NASA images of Mars with 19th century “picturesque” landscape elements, blending visions of a science fiction future and the Old West. The works’ subject, the inhabitation of a hostile alien environment, encourages us to consider how we use art and illusion, as much as science and technology, to control the forces of nature. Also on exhibit is Clarkson’s video, Colony, in which surrogate (insect) astronauts explore the terrain of a NASA Mars photograph accompanied by an electronic score he composed from sci-fi sound effects. Its “opening credits” provide an extensive chronology of Mars in the collective imagination of the cinema.
David Clarkson is interested in the way that ”...Mars must be experienced only as an image or technological vision, whether it’s mine or NASA’s.” Simultaneously presenting a believable natural image along side its material artifice, his work appears to convey the detailed (often subterranean) surface of a distant world, even as it also reveals a more personal one. His art exists, as Marshall McLuhan said of all technology, ”...to extend our senses.”