Agenda for a Landscape

Leah Gilliam

Artist Bio

Agenda for a Landscape, includes a website, CD-ROM, and a series of continually evolving media installations that allow the artist the opportunity to recontextualize her materials over and over. Drawing from the archive of images beamed back to Earth in the Mars Pathfinder mission, Gilliam combines found imagery with footage she shot herself to create a “media landscape” of Mars. Interested in discarded or obsolete technologies and their output, Gilliam puts these images-once widely viewed but now largely forgotten-back into the public realm. In so doing, she taps into viewers’ memories of the event to consider the cultural role these images play. Gilliam deliberately manipulates the existing documentation of the Martian landscape, interspersing it with her own digitally processed footage of the Hudson River Valley, in order to foreground the strangeness of the Mars lander’s telerobotic eye.

Award Year



Leah Gilliam

Brooklyn, NY

Leah Gilliam studied modern culture and media at Brown University (BA, 1989) and Film at The University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee (MFA, 1992). Her media projects have been presented at Thread Waxing Space Gallery, the MIT List Visual Arts Center, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her CD-ROM Split has traveled as part of the exhibition Contact Zones: The Art of the CD-ROM. Her video Playing the Race Card was part of the exhibition Race in Digital Space. Ms. Gilliam’s video Apeshit was voted one of the “Best of 1999” by Film Comment and her 1995 video Sapphire and the Slave Girl was the winner of the New Visions Video Award for the San Francisco International Film Festival. Gilliam’s work examines how knowledge is produced and coded and how the conscious reorientation of cultural texts challenges their implications and constructions. In practice, she appropriates texts and uses them as a springboard to interpret larger issues of history, subjectivity, and technology. Ms. Gilliam’s current interests include Lego Mindstorm Robotic Discovery kits and the colonization of Mars. She teaches in the Film & Electronic Arts Program at Bard College.