Born in Tucson in 1977, Lucy Raven received a BFA in studio art and a BA in art history from the University of Arizona, Tucson (2000), and an MFA from Bard College’s Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York (2008). Her works can be found in the permanent collections of Tate Modern, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, and the Guggenheim.
Primarily grounded in animation and the moving image, Raven’s multidisciplinary practice also incorporates still photography, installation, sound, and performative lecture. Her work deploys image-making processes used in twenty-first-century filmmaking, which often hide the underlying labor in order to investigate the impact of industrial systems and technology within a global infrastructure. Lucy raven's video works consist of curtains (2014), the deccan trap (2015), and rp31. Each of these artworks consist of the playful nature of stereoscopic vision and incorporates complex histories of the production of image technologies.
Curtains (2014), a 3D video installation that Raven shot in post-production studios in Beijing, London, Mumbai, Toronto, Vancouver, Chennai, and Los Angeles. Employing the least expensive labor force worldwide, Hollywood film studios often outsource to these locations to provide the painstaking work behind each frame. Curtains brings the invisible global assembly line to the forefront and sheds light on the undervalued work lurking behind the computer-generated spaces we are so often immersed in.
RP31 was an animation composed from 31 film projection test patterns and calibration charts. The charts tested the quality of a film projection, including focus, aperture, field steadiness and framing. Within this series, Raven combined test patterns with sound design in a continuous loop or cycle. The patterns calibrated projection machines and created the most ideal viewing conditions for the collective sensory experience of the audience. Raven’s work addressed cinema at the level of its material conditions and presented both a formal history of experimental film and a critique of mainstream cinema.
By transferring the patterns to paper, Raven highlighted the way images have evolved over time since the test patterns began as homemade, low-tech collages with watercolor additions. They documented the changing approaches toward regulation and perception. She brought to light the obsolescent technologies that have worked to standardize the moving world around us.
As film itself becomes a relic alongside digital technologies, the test patterns do not serve an active purpose. The test patterns have been given a second life by Raven wherein the eye has more time to dwell on the aesthetics of the compositions and the image before the globalization of cinema.
Unlike Curtains, The Deccan Trap refrains from using the 3D illusion of anaglyph technique and instead uses a photo montage to produce a unique type of doubling. The Deccan Trap (2015) is a photographic animation that transcends space and time. The animation takes the form of a collage, allowing different compostions to emerge as the sequence progresses. Each new arrangement is based on a removal of a layer, emulating the excavation of the rock cut temples of Ellora. The film parallels new 3D images being produced in India at post-prouction studios to bas-relief carvings in Madhya Pradesh.
During her three week residency in June 2017, Raven delved into her interest in bas-relief with the carvers in the wood workshops at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. She collaborated with them to create a new animated film, The Sea (2017) – her artistic response to Chapter 22 of Chilean author Roberto Bolaño's 1980 novella Antwerp (published in 2002). Antwerp is comprised of 56 chapters that loosely follow a detective story with unnamed characters such as “the girl” and “the cop” – and Chapter 22 is “the sea” and contains a diagram (Figure 1). The Sea is part of a larger film project called “56,” by Raven’s production company Thirteen Black Cats, in which artists commission different artists and filmmakers to adapt a chapter of the book. Raven worked with the artisans at Las Casas to create wooden waves that can be manually animated with a wooden crank, with further transformations created by her video animation team in New York.
As part of the public program of the Bellas Artes Outpost in Manila, Raven delivered an illustrated lecture entitled “Low Relief”, which she updated with imagery from her visits in the Philippines. “Low Relief” connected the artist’s research on bas-relief sculpture in both India and the United States to the illusion of depth created in stereoscopic 3D films, as well as the globally connected, labor-intensive processes of post-production involved.
Raven returned on April 1 to continue her residency and is currently developing a new project with Bellas Artes Projects for a future exhibition in late 2018. Lucy Raven is currently visiting the PHILVOCS (Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology) and the Pinatubo Museum for new material.
The museum is run by the Center for Kapampangan Studies of the Holy Angel University in Angeles, Pampanga, next to the museum of National Artist Vicente Manansala. Although it consists of a small room filled with timelines and a handful of artworks, it is nevertheless rich in history. A mural timeline of the Mt. Pinatubo eruptions is shown.
Furthermore, the Pinatubo Museum displays an AVP about the 1991 Pinatubo eruption and contains footage that the PHILVOCS (Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology) were unable to provide. The museum blends real ash, sand, rocks and pumice stones with a wealth of information about Mt. Pinatubo's eruption after approximately five hundred years of inactivity and the impact it had on the (then) eight million people in Central Luzon. A video documentary of the June 12, 1991 Independence Day eruption can be viewed by audiences.
At the museum, Lucy met with Robby Tangtingco, the head of the Center of Kapampangan Studies in Holy Angel University, who wrote the award-winning book, “Pinatubo (The Volcano in Our Backyard).” He provided Raven with research material for her upcoming project, one that the public should be excited for. An aficionado in photography, installation and sound, there is no doubt Raven's next work will be as mesmerizing as her previous projects whether or not the artist continues to explore the poetic relationship between sound and the way that technology informs contemporary society.