Rick Silva – Sky Burial

Rick Silva, Circling, 2014, archival print on aluminum, 22.5 x 40 in.; Courtesy of the artist and Transfer Gallery, New York

Rick Silva, Circling, 2014, archival print on aluminum, 22.5 x 40 in. Price upon request

About this artwork

For his Sky Burial performance project Silva asked collaborators to submit photographs which he then lifted hundreds of feet into the sky with quadcopter drones. The performance alluded to Tibetan Buddhist funeral practices where the body is placed on the top of a mountain to be eaten by birds of prey. At Transfer, the video documentation of these “sky burials” shows the photographs ascending, fluttering in the wind, before the video pauses, the image pixelating as the drone loses contact with its remote and its artificial intelligence takes over. An error message flashes across the screen: “Phantom Connection Broken.” The drone continues to carry the photograph up, but we can no longer see the footage. It is here, at the point where the connection is lost, that the true terror and essence of drones is fully expressed: artificial intelligence overtakes what was relegated to the natural or spiritual realms.

About Rick Silva

Rick Silva is an artist whose recent videos, websites and images explore notions of landscape and wilderness in the 21st century. His first solo show with TRANSFER ‘En Plein Air’ opened in May 2013. Silva’s art has been shown in exhibitions and festivals worldwide, including Transmediale in Germany, Futuresonic in the U.K and Sonar in Spain. His projects have been supported through grants and commissions from organizations such as Rhizome and The Whitney Museum of American Art. Recently WIRED called his videos “glitchy, curious things—some mesmerizing, some arresting.” Silva lives in Eugene Oregon, where he also teaches at the University of Oregon.