Project Room

R. Eric McMaster:

Press Release
R. Eric McMaster Closing Program: Performance by Lee Fearson and Akins Allman
Opening Reception

Click here for the exhibition's Gallery Notes.

Locust Projects presents Drift, a new two-channel video installation by Austin-based artist R. Eric McMaster, opening with a public reception on Earth Day, Friday, April 22 and on view through June 18, 2022, Wednesdays-Saturdays from 11am-5pm. Admission is free.

“Drift serves to highlight the poetics of separation and loss, the beauty of the inevitable, and the awe of nature in all of its complexity.” — R. Eric McMaster

Drift is a two-channel video installation featuring two musicians playing an original, reactive composition as they are set adrift in the ocean on separate, custom-built rafts. As the musicians physically drift away from one another, their ability to hear each other diminishes causing the duet to slowly fall apart.

To produce Drift, a scouted location was selected south of Miami at the start of the Keys. The Keys have a rich history of separation and loss and also serve as a geographical divide between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Vulnerable to sea rise and hurricanes, the Key’s region is a perfect contextual backdrop for the recorded action, as a sense of serene, but inevitable loss looms over the area and is further emphasized by the dissipation of the duet participants.

The custom rafts the musicians float on were made out of the same curly maple as violins. The decorative 'flame' of this wood echoes that of the instruments used in the performance; the instrument a vessel of transporting sound, the boats a vessel for transporting musicians. The 'flame' of the wood also plays with the eye in a similar way that water reflects dancing light on the underside of floating objects.

Salt water was collected at the site of the shoot, boiled down until salinity saturation is achieved, and then the solution was allowed to crystallize on the rafts and instruments. Additionally, saltwater was applied in an aerosol fashion on the Project Space’s walls, creating a sparkling luminenses to the space. The process of evaporating, of allowing the water to leave the salt behind, echoes again a sense of loss and separation.

Drift serves to highlight the poetics of separation and loss, the beauty of the inevitable, and the awe of nature in all of its complexity. At a glance, the project may seem like it was just shot with the site as a backdrop, but through the project, the site pushed back collaborating with the same resistance of a material when sanded; nature addressed in the same way as material and actions. Nature, like another collaborator, willing its influence on the project.

"We all contain water in about the same ratio as Earth does, and salt water in the same ratio that oceans do. We are poems about the hyperobject Earth.” – Timothy Morton

Drift was commissioned by Locust Projects and supported, in part, by a Foundation for Contemporary ArtsEmergency Grant. Composition by Danny Clay. Performed by Benita Dzhurkova and João Da Fraga. Cinematography by Alex Markow. Audio Mixing by John Howell. Fabrication Assistants: Rachael Starbuck and Andy Forbes. Special Thanks to Bill Haddad and Zen and Carrie Mayo.


R.Eric McMaster's work aims to disrupt the familiar using materiality, context, or space as a means of highlighting absence, humor, and/or awe.

R. Eric McMaster has exhibited at the Hiroshima MOCA, Japan; the Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin; The Contemporary Austin; Blue Star Contemporary, San Antonio; Vox Populi, Philadelphia; Antenna Gallery; New Orleans, the Lawndale Art Center, Houston; and Austin’s Testsite, among others. R. Eric McMaster was born in Clarion, Pennsylvania in 1979. He received a BFA from Pennsylvania State University (2003) and an MFA from Arizona State University (2008). He currently lives and works in Austin, where he teaches in the Department of Art and Art History at The University of Texas at Austin.

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