An Afternoon Unregistered on the Richter Scale | 2011

looped video projection | 3:30 minutes | Exhibited at Surjection, Art Gallery of York University, Toronto (2011); The Photographers’ Gallery, London (2012)

An Afternoon Unregistered on the Richter Scale is a looped video projection of an archived  photographic image in which a room full of surveyors is transformed through a series of subtle alterations. The photograph in question is titled Examining Room of the Duffing Section of the Photographic Department of the Survey of India. It was taken in 1911 in Calcutta by British photographer James Waterhouse.
We intervene in this image to conjure a constellation of stars onto a drawing board, induce tremors too gentle to disturb the richter scale, reveal a dreamed up desert, make time wind backwards, stain the afternoon with indigo, and introduce a rustle and a hesitation in the determined stillness of the surveyors hard at work mapping an empire. The work functions as a meditation on the condensation of time in the photographic image as well as a gentle  disturbance in the serious enterprise of recording and commemorating the imposition of order on a fractious landscape. The surveying department isunhinged from empire and annexed to the commonwealth of dreams.
 
This work indexes our interest in working with archival traces (which has been a longstanding pre-occupation), entering them to create layers within our experience of time, memory, and duration. However, in a departure from earlier works which reference archival materials (The Surface of Each Day is a Different Planet and The Capital of Accumulation), An Afternoon Unregistered on the Richter Scale enters the archive not for investigative and analytical but for poetic purposes, leaving behind a trace leavened by whimsy.
Installation | Surjection, Art Gallery of York University, Toronto (2011)

Click here to watch the video (email us on studio@raqsmediacollective.net to request access)