Veins is a multimedia installation that makes reference to the Alberta landscape—Rita McKeough’s home for the past decade. In it, a network of pipelines interlaces ‘natural’ terrain, as if an artificial system of blood veins. Dissecting the exhibition space is an asphalt road, both sides of which is peopled by animals, oversize poplar leaves, tree-trunks, train tracks, and a motorized oil pump jack. Slinking among these are giant mechanized snakes, as tree-trunks are beat gently by automatic drumsticks.
Wall projections show animated forest creatures, whose faces are blinking, twitching, and winking stop-motion collages made from images of leaves, nests, wood, and animal parts. Throughout, the sounds of bestial voices bark and breathe in the space. They give way to McKeough’s own tender—if fragmented—voice, are followed by singing and whistles, and then by a chorus. This is a scene of hybrid bodies, which gesture with both mechanical and animal signals. Such bodies are artificial—this is a very human and technological reproduction of nature, which motions toward humankind’s precarious dominion over the natural world.