Mariner 9 is the first major artist commission by Tyneside Cinema’s Pixel Palace digital arts programme, where Newcastle-based Canadian Kelly Richardson was artist in residence in 2011. Presented as a 12 metre-long panoramic video installation, the work features a constructed Martian environment created by combining NASA technical data with scenery generation software normally used in the film and gaming industries.

Ten months in the making, working full-time, Richardson has depicted the red planet two-hundred years in the future where a minutely detailed battlefield contains the corroding remains of abandoned craft that appear to be transmitting data back to the planet from where they came.

Speaking to Matthew Hearn for a-n’s Knowledge Bank profile, Richardson explained how rewarding the project has been: “As I’m almost always producing work for exhibitions, it’s rare that I take the time out for proper artistic play, so the opportunity to do that was seriously appreciated.”

Dominic Smith, Digital Arts Manager, Pixel Palace said: “As a creative digital media programme in a cinema, we are witnessing film in its final transition from physical to digital media. By working with artists like Kelly we are beginning to explore how this may change the nature of cinema and the arts.”

The installation is presented at Spanish City Dome in partnership with North Tyneside Council. Once home to a permanent funfair, the building has been an iconic feature of Whitley Bay’s seafront for over a hundred years, but has sat empty since 2000. It is currently awaiting redevelopment, something that seems pertinent to Mariner 9’s theme of decay and abandonment, with small sparks of renewal.

Mike Campbell, Arts Development Manager for North Tyneside Council said:“The Spanish City Dome is such an iconic building – it really lends itself to the creative imagination. The building is to be redeveloped over the next year or so, to restore it to its former glory at the heart of the Whitley Bay seafront, so Mariner 9 will be special not only as an artwork but as a rare chance for visitors to see the inside of the Dome as it is now.”

Mariner 9, The Spanish City Dome, Whitley Bay 3 – 19 August 2012.

LEGION, Kelly Richardson’s major solo exhibition at Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland until 29 September 2012.

Orion Tide, showing at the National Glass Centre, Sunderland until 9 September 2012.

Kelly Richardson in conversation with Iain Pate, Director of Modern Empire, at Spanish City Dome, Friday 3 August, 7-8pm (Hosted by Contemporary Art Society).