Kidd is an artist who we are lucky enough to have as a lecturer at Bath Spa University. Her work has been an inspiration and she is the person responsible for the biggest compliment I have ever received about my work - that it made her consider the space we are in differently.
Her work is primarily concerned with painting machines, and working with painting in new ways. The main piece I want to discuss here is ‘Overfill’ which is a series of machines that pump white paint into the space behind a canvas. (Kidd, 2017) This space fills and the paint overspills through small holes at the top of the canvas, before returning to a reservoir underneath each painting.
The painting machines are displayed working, and the results become almost iconic remnants of these industrial explorations of paint. These explorations deny any expressionist or emotional influence. They speak about paint in its purest form and allow the paint to speak for itself. The machines and the resulting canvases are paintings but at the same time they are sculptural forms, and they speak about paint far more than a traditional (or many contemporary paintings) can.
I have been lucky enough to see this work a few times over the last few years. The machines, now dried, are in a few offices around the campus. One of them is currently running in the paint workshop at the university. The small hardened drips that form over months on the canvas had been chipped off, so the machine has been set up once more to reform these chance elements.
In an exhibition in 2000 called ‘Microswitch’ the machines were hydraulic and dipped an entire canvas into white paint and then pulled it up again to allow the excess to drip back into the vat of white. Again and again, the canvas is dipped by the hydraulics, adding layers of paint, covering the old remnants with the new. The show ran for 6 weeks, with the dipping running throughout. (Healy, Undated)
As the layers dry the paint forms inconsistencies and unique forms that cannot be replicated or anticipated because they are true forms of chance. Each time this work is shown the result is different, the differences might be minute but they are there. Using white paint further highlights these small yet extremely important differences. Because these differences are only affected by the machine and the paint itself the resulting effects are aesthetically organic.
The viewers are experiencing the creation process, live. In this way, the pieces are performative, with the machine as the performer. The canvas then serves as a record of the performance.
Natasha Kidd, as the creator of the machine, has control in certain elements, the colour of paint, the timing of the dips etc but the resulting paintings have very little of her personal influence on them. The machine is the artist and the visual form is incidental.
I could easily continue this post, I have conducted a great deal of research into ‘chance’, and there are numerous books and artists who have done the same.
This does not serve as a full view of this subject but instead uses two artists to serve as a note to the importance chance and the incidental in my practice.
Brown, K. (2001) John Cage Visual Art : To Sober and Quiet the Mind. San Francisco : Cambridge University Press.
Cage, J. (1961) Silence : Lectures and Writings. Wesleyan University Press.
Healy, J. (Undated) ‘Natasha Kidd: Microswitch’ [Online] Available from: http://www.natashakidd.com/wp-content/uploads/micro-switch-whats-on-london-review.pdf [Accessed 28.11.17].
Iversen, M. (2010) Chance (Documents of Contemporary Art). MIT Press.
Kidd, N (2017) Natasha Kidd, Artists Talk. Bath Spa University. 21.11.17.