Michelle Atherton’s ‘ARP: Absorbing red photons 2016’ installed at Georgia State University, Atlanta

Still from Michelle Atherton's 'Absorbing Red Photons'

Michelle Atherton’s video installation ARP: Absorbing red photons 2016 (2017) was installed with an accompanying paper presentation at Rendering (the) Visible III: Liquidity at Georgia State University, Atlanta, USA.

The conference explored the concept of liquidity as an innovative critical approach to the image’s relation to space, sensoriality, and digitality, as well as an aesthetic sensibility attuned to the political ontology of motion, form, matter, and noise. Over several years, one of the research groups within the Film Studies Department, titled Liquid Blackness has been exploring some of the above ideas, specifically in relation to race.  “Rendering (the) Visible III: Liquidity” connects this concept more broadly with an increasing turn within the study of moving image culture toward affective relations, plasticity, resonances and flows, whereby images and sounds—no longer grounded in an analogical relation to the real—are seen variously as malleable, untethered, “viral,” or fluid.

Michelle Atherton’s installation at the conference ARP is the second in a trilogy of videos, which began with Dreams of Flying, that use the tourist trip as a methodological starting point for the artworks. The video installation and text explore what might be a stake in an act of submersion in a space of perpetual darkness. The video uses footage shot from a descent, 2,000 feet below sea level, off the coast of Roatan, Honduras and presents the view from the submersible’s thirty-inch porthole.

ARP aims to challenge our centrality in relation to a scene in which we become completely immersed, but severed. One in which we ultimately cannot locate our gaze, our sense of self. It asks what it means to be surrounded in space that it is impossible to inhabit. The piece questions the primacy of the visual and our relations with a space of alterity, where everyday dynamics need to be redefined.

ARP has been supported by the Art & Design Research Centre, at Sheffield Institute of Arts, Sheffield Hallam University, UK and through a residency at BANFF Centre for Arts and Creativity, Canada 2017. Find out more about Michelle Atherton’s residency in her Blog post here.

2018 Conference


Michelle Atherton is Senior Lecturer in Sheffield Institute of Arts (SIA) and a member of the Art & Design Research Centre (ADRC) within C3RI. Michelle’s research explores the resistance of space through the encounter with the image, often using cultural phenomena as a starting point to discuss structures and systems. Michelle’s work has been widely exhibited in a range of galleries and art museums across Europe.