Installation artist Lucia Riffel is in Tampa and wants to unlock the place in between your mind and your telephone screen

The animator opens 'The Eternal Present' on Friday at Tempus Projects, where the show is on display through May 27.

click to enlarge Lucia Riffel - HEADSHOT COURTESY TEMPUS PROJECTS
Headshot courtesy Tempus Projects
Lucia Riffel
There is a place in between your mind and your telephone screen.

Lucia Riffel wants to take you there with cinematic and surreal 3D animation and projections looping infinitely throughout Seminole Heights’ Tempus Projects where the Tallahassee artist is opening "The Eternal Present," a new art show running in Tampa through May 22.

The work—on display at Tempus in partnership with Atlanta's nonprofit Dashboard arts organization—spans from throughout the pandemic. Several of the pieces feature moving clock hands—an allusion to the last two years where time became an illusion itself.

“I've always been interested in how video creates a unit of time. I'm creating a parcel of time and space,” she said. “Some things that were two years ago felt like they were a second ago, but other things have just dragged on forever. So I really wanted to emphasize the time in abstract.”

The video installations are created on Riffel’s MacBook using a program called Blender 3D. She makes them within a 3D environment, but projects in 2D to remind viewers of that space between the screen and their minds.

“You know when you're just looking at your phone, but you're not looking anymore?,” she said. “Just kind of like between yourself and there.”

In the pieces, swings, leaves, checkered floors and objects in the horizon all sway and gently move in 1,000-frame loops that have a calming effect not unlike the feeling you get after a healthy dose of edibles.

Riffel first started noticing the subtle movement of things like dust in the air as a young, and only, child killing time in her dad’s Minnesota home. The doors and tiny details in her work all reference taking time to just absorb those tiny little movements.

She tried other mediums, but making illustration inside Blender 3D has been the most fulfilling.

“It took me a really long time to make work that meant something to me more than just, ‘I like how this looks,’” she explained. “I had a really hard time wrapping my head around making with intention.” As multilayered as the work is, Riffel knows when it’s done because the piece gives her a sense of calm and relief from the ADHD and thoughts that run through her mind at a million miles an hour.

“My hands are doing enough, my brain is looking at something, and I can finally just sit with myself,” she said, describing her sweet spot in the creation process. “It's something that's really relaxing for me. It gets all of my energy out so I can just exist for a minute.”

And every now and then—like in “Tranquility,” one of the only “The Eternal Present” pieces set explicitly outside—the movements lend themselves to another emotion that might be even better than calm.

“It’s just really nice,” Riffel said. “This one kind of makes me, like, overtly happy.”

UPDATED 04/21/22 4 p.m. Updated after a gallery visit.

About The Author

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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