Scott Kildall is cross-disciplinary artist who writes algorithms that transform various datasets into 3D sculptures and installations. The resulting artworks often invite public participation through direct interaction. His work has been exhibited internationally at venues including the New York Hall of Science, Transmediale, the Venice Biennale, the Vancouver Art Gallery and the San Jose Museum of Art. He has received fellowships, awards and residencies from organizations including the SETI Institute, ZERO1, Santa Fe Art Institute Impakt Works, Autodesk, Recology San Francisco, Turbulence.org, Eyebeam Art + Technology Center, Kala Art Institute and The Banff Centre for the Arts. He resides in San Francisco and is currently researching water issues on this planet and beyond.
I write software code that transforms datasets about the urban and natural world into sculptures and installations. I often use digital fabrication machines such as 3D printers, waterjets and CNC tools to build, gouge and carve into materials in an exploration of physical possibilities of data expression. The resulting artifacts fix shared cultural and natural data in time. My work depicts things such as the kinetic event of an asteroid impact and the flow systems of sewer infrastructure into immutable forms, often contradicting the dynamic universe. Since data has tangible consequences in the real world, physical data-visualizations have the potential to engage with the actual effects of the data itself through its materiality. People can move around, though or inside of my artwork. I experiment with anti-mapping techniques, rupturing and shattering aluminum and stone and embracing the glitch of the imperfect machine process. Execution of this work is conducted by the stepper motor rather than by my own gestures. I am fascinated by the recent possibilities of combining machine fabrication with software code. My algorithms produce unpredictable results. My work is a collaboration with machines, emphasizing their flaws and peculiarities as together we create new forms of physical artwork.
I came to the residency with the plan to experiment and produce many failures. I wanted to open my art practice to new forms of analog sculptural experiments, to understand local water issues and to avoid frenetic studio production and instead take breaks, explore the landscape, exercise frequently and clear my mind. 2016 was a difficult year for me, both personally and politically and though I hadn’t anticipated this when I applied, I desperately needed a reset. I did produce many failures — most notably with odd papercrete experiments. I cast these in various forms such as water bottles. I put inverted property marker signs in them. I hung them as balls from the ceiling. Some of the work “stuck”, meaning that there is something there. Others just looked crappy. My studio is always a den of chaos. The work I often create is clean and precise. I never quite understood this balance of bipolar energy that drives my practice — the creative spurts of madness combined with the rigid formalism of writing and conceptualization, but now I know that the two work in ways to synthesize my personality and good work. The architectural structure of “the compound,” where the small community of us worked reinforced this mode of creativity. I slept irregular hours. I often went hiking or mountain biking. I drank red wine in the studio and worked late at night. I parked myself in coffee shops and wrote about my work and read about water rights. My most successful work is a new piece called Sonaqua, where I sonify — play sounds of — water samples based on their water quality. It is beautiful, simple, robust and expansive. I also discovered that I am and always will be an artist that works with technology — what people call a “new media” artist. My analog sculptural experiments will feed into these. But the backbone of my practice is rooted in the subverting of the technical and a conversation with art and science. I now have renewed energy. The residency was deeply impactful.