When discussing the upcoming exhibition, Studio Views, with Kingston Gallery member artist Nat Martin, I raised several questions about his process and work. Below are fragments of his responses to everything from the overall theme of the work to why he makes the work he does:
The overall theme is one of worry and anxiety as it relates to climate change. Late at night in 2018 and 2019 I had been listening to podcasts about climate change. It was often literally the last thing I was doing before going to sleep and I think of these photos as being like scenes from a nervous dream.
I was creating views from imagined satellites or probes that could be looking for a safe home on alien worlds. Some suggest a violent, hostile future earth. For me, they all suggest a moment of exploration or discovery: the discovery of more and more unaccommodating and strange places.
At one point I was going to include looping videos in the show, but I ended up switching directions, but they were so much fun to make I kept making them. I had a number of outtake photographs that I ended up liking as animations rather than photographs.
I started thinking of them as video feeds from far-away places and planets. I placed them in television screens because of the photograph Transmission, which suggests a house illuminated by a glowing TV screen. I was imagining a distant event that someone might be watching.
Almost everything was shot in my studio. They are photos of small, constructed spaces. I tried to avoid the use of any model making materials and instead used found materials and copious amounts of glue, sand, paint, etc.. Then I would take pictures with exposures of 30-60 seconds in very low light. Many were created on Plexiglass so I could then light them from below, suggesting something volcanic. I would then edit in Photoshop.
The images above shows the set up for Sea Tubes and the final image.
It is a Plexiglass sheet raised up on boards. Coating the top is a crackled mixture of house paint, glue and sand. A lamp is shining from above. The tubes were created by putting a blob of hot glue on a rock that I quickly dropped into ice water. The glue stretched until the water hardened it, then I glued them to the Plexiglass.
This was one of many that I intended to look underwater. I had read an article about the possibility of a probe breaking through the ice on Jupiter’s moon Europa and exploring an alien sea- it conjured up all sorts of visions. To see more process images and GIFs go to https://natmartin.squarespace.com/#/studio-views-debris-field/.
Nat Martin: Studio Views is on view in the Kingston Main Gallery, Anne Sargent Walker: Can We Bear It is showing in the Center Gallery and Susan Emmerson: Tears Along the Edge is on view in the Kingston Project Space through February 2, 2020. An opening reception for all is Friday, January 3, 5-8pm.