Red Iris


Kate Richards has a background in critically conceived and experimental film and video. Over the last 3 years Kate has expanded her area of production to digital media.

"Red Iris", an enhanced audio CD for musician Stevie Wishart, includes an interactive multi media work by Kate, commissioned by Spainish publishers Glossa Music. It was released internationally in London in october this year, and in Australia in early 1998.

Kate is currently producing/directing a CD-ROM entitled "Elementia" - funded by the Australian Film Commission. "Elementia", a hyperdimensional, cartographic tour of an imaginary landscape, is an allegory for our obsessive search to reconcile (or transmute) matter to spirit. Set on the fictive island Elementia, the tale unfolds through Anax Helio's private collection of Elementian maps. Maps bizarre and eerie, urbane and greedy; 2d, 3d, 4d, of metal and stone and skin and luxite.

Kate is also in development with writer/director Ross Gibson on "Life After Wartime", a multi media treatment of post WW2 scene-of-crime photographs. Based on Gibson's research into a hidden archive spanning the 20thC, "Life After Wartime" has received funding from the University of technology Sydney and the Australian Film Commission.

Kate Richards is a well respected teacher of electronic art, and film and video production. She is currently an Honorary Research Fellow in New Media in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

Conceptual Description

Musician - Stevie Wishart
Multimedia artist/writer - Kate Sparke Richards
Publishers - Glossa Music, El Escordia, Spain
June 1997 - release date Oct 97

RED IRIS CD+ is an album of secular 14th Century Tuscan party/dance music -virtuosic and cutting edge, as befitting the pre-dawn of the Renaissance.Stevie Wishart's interpretation of the music is similarly lively +contemporary.

Embedded in the CD is an 150 megabyte interactive artwork. In RED IRIS interactive, multi media artist Kate Richards uses the manuscript from which the tracks were sourced, plus three contemporaneous frescos from Tuscany, as the main interface screens. These are the canvas for an historically informed rereading of connections between music, society and visual arts in Tuscany in the late C14th.

RED IRIS CD+ works as ekphrasis - a modern interpretation of medieval music and frescoes undertaken in another medium - the multi media interactive. The player explores the the 4 main interface screens by moving closely over the surface of each in search of hot spots. The player's eye thus engages with these very detailed images, teasing meaning from the arcane symbology, be it musical or painterly.

During player scrutiny, the interactive reveals and plays with the techniques employed by the frescoe artists, and by the music itself. Notably, the frescoes employ direct address to the audience; quotation of other paintings; the combining of pictorialism with allegory; commentary on the means of production, and commentary on social and political events of the time.

Historical incidents, personalities and representations of religious and secular life are re-interpreted by the modern interactive overlay. Historical research (eg the work by Giovanni Carsiniga on the manuscript), fictional extrapolations (the text frames by Kate Richards and John Stinson) and scripted video and sound scenes, comprise this re-writing.

The interactive links musical tracks with frescoe elements by the device of fictional and semi fictional text frames. These text frames locate the musical tracks within an analysis of the paintings - for example, where a real person such as Pasavanti is depicted in the Florentine fresco, an appropriate music track is hot linked to his image by a story told, in this case, by Pasavanti in the first person. Other stories take historical spring boards from contemporaneous texts such as Boccaccio's Decameron and Barbarino's Manual for the education of Women. Others still are pure invention based on an understanding of the era and a desire to bring alive the music and visual arts of Tuscany in the 14thC.

Red Iris Interactive was produced for the modest sum of $10,000 (Australian). We did the research, conception and content aquisition in Sydney, and the work was programmed in Spain at Glossa Music. The production took approximately 6 months.