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Rebecca Baumann

Automated Colour Field  2011

flip-clocks, paper

130 × 360 × 9cm, installed

Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds provided by the Coe and Mordant families, 2011
Originally commissioned by the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art for NEW11

2011.20

About the Artwork

Automated Colour Field is a kinetic sculpture consisting of a wall-mounted grid of 100 flip-clocks, the numbered panels of which have been replaced by paper cards in a variety of colours. The battery-operated clocks keep their own time, turning the paper cards on the minute and the hour to create a kaleidoscopic field of colour. As in many of Baumann’s works, the mechanisms used to activate her chosen materials, and the incidental noises these mechanisms generate, are an important element of the experience she creates. In this work the analogue clocks activate the paper cards, producing a low background hum and soft pattering sound like raindrops falling on a tin roof.

Informed by psychology, colour theory and art history, Automated Colour Field makes reference to the abstract painting movement known as colour field. Links can also be made to German artist Gerhard Richter’s colour chart paintings of the 1960s and 70s, which mimic the charts used by paint manufacturers and incorporate chance distributions of colour. Like Richter, Baumann uses processes of chance and a commercially available colour palette in her work, describing her placement of the coloured cards as being driven by a spontaneous rather than pre-planned impulse, resulting in an arbitrary arrangement of colour.

Baumann is interested in how we subjectively perceive colour and time, and how these phenomena are scientifically visualised and measured. Her main focus is the intimate relationship between colour and emotion, and the way specific colours and colour combinations can elicit particular feelings or moods. Bringing time into this equation, Baumann links the continually changing arrangements of colour generated by the flip-clocks to the fluctuating spectrum of emotions people experience over any 24-hour period.

Automated colour field is a subtle play between materials, colour and movement. The way I often work with materials is to manipulate and control them to a point – then let them free to ‘do what they do’. The clocks are placed on the wall in an orderly grid, but with their constant change, and randomly selected colour, uncontrollable compositions are created.

Rebecca Baumann, 2012

VIDEO: Rebecca Baumann discusses her works and practice

Shot in 2012, this video features the Perth-based artist Rebecca Bauman speaking on her practice and recent works, including the MCA Collection work 'Automated Colour Field' (2011).

Rebecca Baumann

– About the artist

Born 1983, Perth. Lives and works Perth.


Rebecca Baumann’s practice spans a range of media, including kinetic sculpture, photography, performance, digital animation and installation. She is fascinated by the complex workings of human emotion and our pursuit of happiness through celebration and ritual. She has extended this interest into the relation between colour and emotion, drawing on research in psychology, sociology, colour theory and art history. Her works affect the audience through their experiential, transient and emotive qualities. Methodically planned and executed, Baumann’s pieces often utilise festive materials such as confetti, tinsel, smoke, balloons and streamers, which are momentarily, and sometimes violently, brought to life by various mechanisms including fans, ball-throwers, clocks and detonators.

Baumann has exhibited nationally and internationally. Selected group shows include New Romance, MMCA, Seoul (2015); Encounters, Art Basel Hong Kong (2014); Everyday Magic, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane (2013); First Amongst Equals (Part II), Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Perth (2012); Primavera, MCA, Sydney (2011); NEW11, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2011); Linden1968, Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts, Melbourne (2008); SILVER: Artrage 25, Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Perth (2008); and New Disorder, Old Berlin, Perth (2007).

Baumann’s solo exhibitions and performances include Mechanised Colour Assemblage, collaboration with Danny Rose for VIVID Sydney (2015); Manoeuvres, Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle (2015); Once More with Feeling, Starkwhite, Auckland (2014); Untitled State of Mind, Gallery ON, Poznań, Poland (2010); Action #1: Artists in Response to City Spaces, Perth Cultural Centre, Perth (2010); This Glorious Mess, Free Range Gallery, Perth (2009); and from the beginning; one more time, Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle (2009). Baumann’s work is held in a number of collections, including major state galleries in Australia and New Zealand, and corporate and private collections.

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