T. KELLY MASON AND DIANA THATER
Mason: Born 1964, Hollywood, California; lives in Los Angeles, California
Thater: Born 1962, San Francisco, California; lives in Los Angeles, California
Distinctions between art and music— always hazily fluid in LA— were definitively sundered in T. Kelly Mason and Diana Thater's first collaboration, a five-hour "live performance for audio and video" titled The future that almost wasn't (1996–2000). Carried out with numerous guest artists and musicians, it included six video projectors and fourteen video decks showing sequences of images— from news footage of the Black Panthers to clips of Esther Williams swimming to excerpts from Fluxus films— as well as live-mixed video stills drawn from television, advertising, and the artists' own work. Prerecorded and live-mixed music emanated from turntables, keyboards, drum machines, and computers. This technical and stylistic profusion stemmed in part from the diversity of the pair's own practices. Thater's large-scale "neo-structuralist" video installations of the past fifteen years feature multichannel projections and colored gelatins applied to the architecture of the exhibition space, and take up themes ranging from the mediation of nature by culture to the influence of abstraction on animation. Mason was trained as a composer and musician and has used floral arranging, aerial photography, and urban planning as points of reference in his "communicative sculptures," while his text-based works probe the fault lines of linguistic signification.