Rick Silva: Liquid Crystal

Apr 11–July 24, 2023

Rick Silva’s Liquid Crystal is a series of seven videos, one for each day of the week, that explore the relationship between natural and technological environments. Each of the videos starts with a view of a natural surface—such as earth with leaves and moss, sand, gravel, snow, and a broken sheet of ice—the artist’s hands then push aside to reveal a screen with colorful synthesized video patterns and effects. As an electronic optical device using the light-modulating properties of liquid crystals, the liquid crystal display already employs natural phenomena and materials. Silva’s video series builds on this connection by alluding to the natural cycles of sunrise and sunset and the seasonal changes captured in the surfaces. The extraction of natural resources is a recurring motif in Silva’s work; in Liquid Crystal, the artist, whose grandfather was a diamond miner in Brazil, quite literally digs into nature to reveal video patterns in the technological environment of whitney.org. The process of digging into the ground unearths both a past and points to the technologies that will be built from raw materials in the future, interweaving strands of time. Silva’s hands both function as a metaphor of artistic creation and suggest the manual labor in “mining” natural environments to support technological systems. 

Rick Silva (b. 1977) is a Brazilian-American artist whose videos, websites, and installations explore virtuality, futurology, and speculative ecologies. His work has been exhibited at institutions including The Centre Pompidou, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. He has been featured in Artforum, Wired, and Rhizome’s Net Art Anthology. He lives in Eugene, Oregon where he is an Associate Professor at The University of Oregon.

Sunrise/Sunset is a series of Internet art projects that mark sunset and sunrise in New York City every day. All are commissioned by the Whitney specifically for whitney.org, each project unfolding over a timeframgite of ten to thirty seconds.

Using whitney.org as their habitat, Sunrise/Sunset projects disrupt, replace, or engage with the museum website as an information environment. This form of engagement captures the core of artistic practice on the Internet, the intervention in existing online spaces.

To see the current project, be anywhere on this website during sunrise or sunset.


See more on artport, the Whitney Museum's portal to Internet and new media art.