Diana Thater

Made by Katherine Martinez

Report on the retrospective exhibit "Diana Thater: The Sympathetic Imagination" currently on display at the LACMA.

Created: November 30th, 2015


Diana Thater's work explores the effects of colors, especially through the separation of color channels in projection. Her subjects are primarily organic, including plants, animals, and landscapes, presented in bright, dreamy color. 

Her projections are often accessible to the viewer allowing them to engage directly with the images presented. This is particularly interesting since the works do not openly invite viewers to interact, but despite any clear invitation, most do anyways. People seem to enjoy seeing themselves inserted into her environments, though they appear as only silhouettes. 

The strongest works in the exhibition are those that are dynamic - works that contain only static images do not offer the same opportunity for engagement, and the amount of viewers interacting with them supports that. The video works act more like portals into new worlds, while the static images remind the viewer that they are simply observing a screen or projection.

Dsc 0787.jpg.thumb Katherine Martinez (2015)

Though Thater's work is less directly interactive, it shares a common vein with Pipilotti Rist's 2010 installation, Heroes of Birth. Both offer saturated color environments and dreamy projections, but Rist brings more physical objects into her work, even a water cooler and vase of flowers. Rist comes later than Thater, who might be considered more of a pioneer in her domain, but offers new elements to the use of light, color, and projection.


The two most adaptable traits of these works appears to be saturated color environments and dreamy projected landscapes. While the idea of setting the mood of a room with color sounds pretty appealing, I worry about the logistics of creating the effect in my own project. However, I'd love to incorporate the otherworldly feeling of Thater's projected worlds, and in particular am drawn to the natural themes of her work.

*Disclaimer: technically I have seen this in person, though I hadn't when I planned the assignment.

All photos of Diana Thater's work are my own.

Share this Project


Report on the retrospective exhibit "Diana Thater: The Sympathetic Imagination" currently on display at the LACMA.