Gary L. Nickard (b. 1954), Insidious Protocols, 1986; Ektacolor photographs, copper, florescent bulb and Van de Graaff generator, 39 1/4 x 77 inches (Frame: 45 1/8 x 82 1/2 inches); Gift of Gary Nickard and Patty Wallace in honor of Margaret Viola Nickard, 1991
Buffaloartist Gary Nickard has been fascinated with what he calls “the spectacle of science” since his childhood. Not exclusively a visual artist, Nickard is a published writer and former curator of various institutions including CEPA and the Aperture Foundation for the Study of Photography. He sees science as both visual and symbolic — having the power to intrigue and instill fear. This work is part of a series of Insidious Protocols pieces that combine photographs taken from scientific texts and Nickard’s own machines. This blend causes the viewer to make comparisons between photographic evidence and the phenomena of the accompanying apparatus. By removing his images from their scientific explanation, Nickard replicates the relationship between the general public’s experience of science and academia. Nickard provides a close examination of the relationship between power and knowledge analyzed by philosopher Michel Foucault in a skeptical view of modern science.
Note that the colors and use of copper are relevant. Copper is naturally a pinkish-red metal that reacts to the oxygen in air to form a layer of brown-black copper oxide on copper metal. Oxidized copper is green; wet air causes the formation of copper carbonate, which is called verdigris when referring to the light blue-green patina on copper roofs or sculpture. Copper sulfate, also known as blue vitriol, is a crystalline salt that is deep blue in color. –NW