Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Opening day - Scaled by Kate Nichols

"Scaled" opened today, with crowds gathered around peering at drawings while rotating their heads, marveling at the series of complex, interactive drawings, finding their favorite angles.

Here's a little more about the show, from the artist:

These drawings are created by dispersing graphite powder in isopropanol—rubbing alcohol—and painting the suspension onto paper. When dry, I draw over the loose graphite with pencil. The compressed pencil graphite engages light differently than its loose counterpart—reflecting more, absorbing and scattering less. Compressed, the graphite has a multicolored shimmer in sunlight. Despite these differences, the compressed and loose graphite are indistinguishable from certain angles, rendering the drawn details invisible at times. Making these drawings, I have to constantly reposition the drawing in relation to the sun and my eyes. Likewise, a curious viewer must walk around the drawings, tilting her head, slouching and tiptoeing to see them, which makes the viewing process more of a search.

The drawn layer is composed of repeated circles and ovals of various sizes and densities, resulting in a visual effect akin to that of scales. Like these drawings, the colors of many animals’ scales are viewing-angle dependent because the scales have periodic architectures on the scale of wavelengths in the visible spectrum. These drawings complement lab-based work with silica nanoparticles: in both projects, I use the same material throughout, varying packing structures to generate visual effects with a high degree of viewing-angle dependency.

About the artist:

Kate Nichols is a San Francisco artist. As master’s candidate in UC Berkeley’s Visual Studies Department, Nichols works in the Alivisatos lab in the university’s Materials Science Department. As a part of this nanotechnology research group, Nichols creates materials that exhibit structural color. Manipulating materials at length scales akin to those of wavelengths in the visible spectrum allows her to generate an array of colors from a single substance without modifying its chemical composition in any way. The drawings that compose Scaled reflect Nichols’s recent preoccupations with packing architectures, viewing-angle-dependency, and self-assembly.

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