Gray Nicol

Painting Machine (1977)

16 min 35 secSingle channel / Digital Video / Black & White / Sound

The artist stands in front of a large blank canvas (made of glossy paper?) attached to a wall. He wears a suit, and his arms have long metal clamps attached which restrict his movement but allow him to move stiffly. A person walks into frame and attaches clamps to Nicol’s legs. The person leaves. Nicol picks up a drawing tool (chalk? charcoal?) and begins drawing a series of large overlapping circular gestures on the canvas. He continues to draw, filling in the circles, while the metal clamps periodically make noise as if a tensioned spring mechanism is being activated, jerking Nicol’s arms as he draws. He switches to a paintbrush which he dips into paint pots by his feet. He paints two large X’s which sit over the two large circles. In the final minutes of the video Nicol’s gestures briefly become more vigorous and he shows signs of fatigue. He puts the paintbrush down, releases the clamps and turns to the audience to signal the end of the performance.

Off screen we hear traffic noise, a cough from an audience member and later in the video people talking.

Other works by Gray Nicol

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