Back to Blog February 16, 2015

Foundations Faculty: Nichola Kinch & Love Stories

Author: Yen Dinh

Nichola Kinch, an Assistant Professor of Foundation and Visual Studies, recently had her exhibition at the University of Rochester’s Hartnett Gallery. The exhibition, “Love Stories”, is a collection of animation machines, photographs, and optical devices that presents a rarified image of nature. Each object offers an illusion: a grove of 10 foot trees that appear real but are flat, a phenaksitascope that is dressed up as the moon, and a flock of birds whose flight is powered by a manual crank. Through these objects, and the images they create, Kinch draws parallels between the mediated photographic experience and the construction of romantic thought in regards to experiences of nature and others.

Kinch’s most recent work stems from her research that has been primarily focused on the combinations of historical and new technologies to explore image and image production as finite and concrete occurrences. It centers on the creation of poetic and fantastical installations that explore image production as a metaphor for a variety of fictional constructs. As of late, she has become interested with optical toys and early moving images and the physicality of these devices to place emphasis on the power and limits of visual perception. In addition, Kinch’s research has a strong connection to a maker’s culture and often involves seeking out new processes. This results in extended periods of trouble shooting and technical problem solving.

By repeatedly placing herself in the role of the beginner, Kinch says it is important to her role as an education and as a human. Alongside with her research in historical image production practices, Kinch has been focusing on learning and familiarizing herself with computer-aided design (CAD) and manufacturing processes. The series that came from this research was “Lithophane Electrotachyscope”, which was exhibited in her solo exhibition at Tiger Strikes Asteroid in Philadelphia in February 2014.

Electrotachyscopes were an early form of cinema machine invented by Ottomar Anschutz in 1887. These machines produced a simple animation that could be projected directly by flashing a strobe through chromatically sequenced slides that were mounted on the rim of a spinning wheel.

The film machine that Kinch had constructed animates a serious of lithophanes instead of the tradition glass slide. Lithophanes are image reliefs carved into translucent material which becomes translucent when thin. These three dimensional plaques produce detailed photographic images when backlit. Lithophanes were first invented in Europe in the 1820’s. Traditionally, lithophanes were made of porcelain and used for decorative purposes, such as lampshades and windowpanes. Both the lithophanes and the wheel that housed them were created in the 3D modeling program Rhino and fabricated using a CNC router.

Lithophane Electrotachyscope requires at least 2 individuals to work. While one individual is turning the crank to produce the animation, the other individual looks through the view funder to look at the animation of water spiraling down a drawn. As the funnel of water travels, it becomes a lens which distorts the image of the drain.

For more information about Nichola Kinch’s work, visit her website at:

Nichola Kinch is a Philadelphia based artist and an Assistant Professor at Temple University’s Tyler school of Art in the Foundations and Visual Studies Programs. Kinch’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including exhibitions at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, SPACES Gallery in Cleveland, Vox Popluli and The Print Center in Philadelphia, The Median Art Center in Beijing, China and The Center for Modern Art in Shanghai, China. Nichola Kinch holds a BFA in Ceramics from the Myers School of Art and a MFA in sculpture from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art.

Professor Kinch's work was funded by grants from Temple University's Provost for the Arts.