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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Roger Dainton (b. 1943)

Self-taught electrical engineer who became a ‘kinetic artist by mistake’. Born in Bristol, he began by repairing television sets, later moving to the Netherlands to work for the Philips corporation in their development of colour television technology. This led to his involvement in the ground-breaking Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition at the ICA, London, in 1968, and his contribution of a short essay entitled ‘Simulated synasthesia’ to the published catalogue. At this time he became associated with the sculptor Philip Vaughan, with whom he collaborated on the Hayward Gallery’s Neon Tower (1970), a controversial work that was later removed but is, at the time of writing (April 2018), due to be reinstated. In addition to the now vanished Kinetic Sculpture on Picardy Place, Greenside, Edinburgh, significant works from this time include Domobility, a 9.1m neon dome erected as part of a mixed-media exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park, London, in 1973. He produced several works for the eccentric American artist, philanthropist and prankster Stanley Marsh 3, including Nite Tree (1972–73), located on the edge of the prairie at Amarillo, Texas, and was involved in the creation of Cadillac Ranch (1974), also near Amarillo, by Marsh’s radical art collective Ant Farm. He produced very few sculptures after the mid-1970s, concentrating instead on his original vocation as an engineer.

Source: information from the artist.

Bibliography: T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of South London, Liverpool, 2007, pp. 29–30; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, vol. 1, p. 174, vol. 2, pp. 467–69; J. Reichardt (ed.), Cybernetic Serendipity: the computer and the arts, London, 1968, p. 43.

Ray McKenzie 2018