Hammer Projects: Lucy Raven

Lucy Raven uses animation as the foundation for her explorations into the relationship of still photography to the moving image. During her 2011 Hammer Residency, Raven embarked on an ongoing investigation of the invention, growth, and mainstream acceptance of 3D cinema, from its roots in early animation to the current global infrastructure that has been established to support its new-found popularity. In the process, she began to amass an exhaustive archive of film and sound test patterns. Key to achieving high-quality image and sound, these test patterns are usually seen only by projectionists. Raven’s new works press these esoteric image and sound fragments into use as both raw material and subject-matter unto itself, freighted with the patina of analog cinema in a digital age. Hammer Projects: Lucy Raven will feature three new works that promise to broaden our view of the perceptual potential and depth of meaning to be found in the technologies of photography and moving images.

The exhibition is organized by Hammer assistant curator Corrina Peipon.


Lucy Raven was born in Tucson, Arizona in 1977 and lives in New York City and Oakland, California. Her work has been included in exhibitions and screenings internationally including the Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2012); 11 Rooms, Manchester International Festival, Manchester, United Kingdom (2011); Documentary Fortnight, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010); Greater New York, PS1, Long Island City, New York (2010); Sound Design For Future Films, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (2010); China Town and Archive, Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, Nevada (2010); Eastern Standard, MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts (2008); In Practice, Sculpture Center, Long Island City, NY (2007); and Con Air II, Performa Radio, Performa05, New York, NY (2005). Raven is a contributing editor to BOMB magazine, and her writing has appeared in publications such as Rachel Harrison: Museum With Walls (Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College/Whitechapel Gallery/Portikus, 2010); Deborah Stratman: Tactical Uses of a Belief in the Unseen, (Gahlberg Gallery, 2010); and Inge Morath: The Road to Reno (Steidl, 2006). She was the co-curator with Fionn Meade of Nachleben at the Goethe Institute, New York (2010); co-curator with Regine Basha and Rebecca Gates of The Marfa Sessions at Ballroom Marfa, Marfa, Texas (2008); associate producer on Urbanized (2012); and co-producer of a series of online documentaries for the Oakland Museum of California (2012).


By Corrina Peipon

In 2009 Lucy Raven completed China Town, an hour-long video examining the global economy through the lens of copper mining. The video traces the path of copper ore from a mine in the Nevada desert through its processing and refinement at a smelter in China for the production of wire and pipe destined for myriad development projects throughout the country. Following works that consider sociopolitical issues like sustainable energy production, planned communities, public access to information distribution, and the role of labor in civic and commercial endeavors, China Town looks at the environmental and economic impact of an increasingly global need for natural resources. 

While these earlier works included traditional hand-drawn animations, China Town is a photographic animation consisting of thousands of still images and a sound track of field recordings made on-site. Relentlessly following leads and asking detailed questions, Raven engaged a process akin to investigative journalism or ethnographic research, gaining a firsthand account of a phenomenon that was previously invisible to outsiders. While she used the tools of reportage, however, the result is something else entirely. Somewhere between animation and documentary, feature and art movie, China Town defies categorization, enacting a kind of resistance that is broached in all Raven’s work. 


Hammer Projects: Lucy Raven is presented through a residency at the Hammer Museum.

The Hammer Museum’s Artist Residency Program was initiated with funding from the Nimoy Foundation and is supported through a significant grant from The James Irvine Foundation.

Hammer Projects is made possible by a major gift from The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation.

Generous support is provided by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and by Susan Bay Nimoy and Leonard Nimoy. Additional support is provided by Good Works Foundation and Laura Donnelley; the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs; the Decade Fund; and the David Teiger Curatorial Travel Fund.