2nd Year Reviews: Keith Richner by Ben Yacavone

When watching the work of Keith Richner, a number of words come to mind: wasteland, solitude, science fiction, efficiency, and skill, to name a few. One of the most impressive aspects of Keith’s work is the aforementioned skill and efficiency he uses in creating his films; models and composites that would take most artists days or weeks to create are put together by Keith in a matter of hours, with the same level of precision and quality that one would expect from full-time animators.

In much of Keith’s work, there is a sense of journey. When one thinks of a journey, there is often an end goal or destination associated with it; such is not the case with Keith’s films. Lone characters or machines are seen traveling through empty space, touching down in distant worlds, or exploring empty wastelands. This journey is isolated, affording the viewer a strange sense of voyeuristic privilege. One of the things that compels me so much in being able to experience these journeys is the apparent lack of an end goal; there is no final destination, no Mordor to throw the ring into, no person to be rescued. There is only the journey. This leaves me wanting more as the viewer, to want a sequel, or five more minutes of film to see what happens next. Not being able to get that is both incredibly frustrating, and also incredibly enticing, in that I want to watch more of Keith’s videos to see if there are any opportunities for me to witness that end resolution.

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To some, this lack of goal or end game might be a negative aspect; what’s the point of watching a film if nothing happens at the end? Why am I spending this time and not getting anything out of it? These are potential questions that the work causes, and also a personal critique of mine. An additional critique would be that in reading about and hearing the work explained, I still only have a very vague sense of what each piece is about. Keith’s speed in creating work often results in him having a completely new project or idea to present to us during each of his critique sessions, and that can at times be detrimental in that we cannot rely on our past critique experiences to inform us in critiquing the work being presented that day; we must start from scratch over and over, which limits the depth of feedback that we can provide.

As a whole, I love Keith’s work; the barrenness, the almost cold/detached isolation presented in his worlds and characters, all of it. What would make me love it more is really being able to have a stronger idea of what I’m watching, and what I might expect to happen.

To learn more about Keith’s work and watch videos of his process please visit http://krichner0908.tumblr.com/

As part of the second-year graduates’ Thesis Projects I course, candidates were each assigned two of their cohort to review. As students begin writing their thesis papers and constructing artist statements, this review process proves to be beneficial twofold. Students not only exercise their written critique skills, but are able to read about their own project from other voices. Over the next few weeks we’ll be posting these reviews, so be sure to visit regularly for insights and photos of the second years’ progress!

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