• 15.09.2010. - 17.10.2010.

    White, Yellow, Blue, and Black, one Coincidence, and one Object

    Artists: Ryan Barone , Charles Broskoski, Reynald Drouhin, Michael Kargl – aka carlos katastrofsky, Jan Robert Leegte,

    Curated by Birgit Rinagl, Franz Thalmair; CONT3XT. NET

    — [...] Then even your Abstract Paintings should convey a content? — Yes. —
    They’re not the negation of content, not simply the facticity of painting, not an
    ironic paraphrase of contemporary expressionism? — No. — Not a perversion of
    gestural abstraction? Not ironic? — Never! What sort of things are you asking?
    (Gerhard Richter, interviewed by Benjamin Buchloh)

    A reduction of structure, material, and space; if colour articulates itself,
    independently of interpretation or context—does that make it autonomous?
    Monochromacity has been considered the most essential form of abstraction,
    having provided a source of inspiration for non-figurative and nonrepresentational
    tendencies in contemporary art, these ideas need to be taken
    still further in the age of digital images. The notion of a pure medium proposed
    by twentieth-century modernism with its ideals of autonomy is increasingly being
    pushed aside by mixed media approaches: In this post-medium condition,
    however, the autonomous realms of the world of technical devices and the
    intrinsic characteristics of the world of media retain their relevance. In fact, the
    specificity and autonomy of media is growing ever more differentiated.
    [1] How
    does the media quality of a digital image determine its appearance? If the
    Internet is used as a tool for communicating artistic expression, how does that
    relate to the history of art? Which ways of reading the Internet have users
    These questions point to the fact that reflecting on this condition
    is not an end in itself, but at best an intrinsic and obvious undertaking.

    The exhibition White, Yellow, Blue, and Black, one Coincidence, and one Object
    presents eight international positions in Internet-based art that embrace
    monochromacity as a formal principle without clinging to the ideological aims
    of earlier artistic avant-gardes. The works on display implicitly address the
    deconstruction of the digital image via text (code) and explicitly ask whether, in
    the face of the present image overload, there are ways of escaping the so-called
    crisis of representation. It is therefore possible to read these abstract works of
    art as art about abstract art. Other than with the presentational medium of
    monochrome painting, their two-dimensionality, [3] which is limited by the
    browser and restricted to the screen, is not accepted as the boundary of the
    work. On the contrary, the exhibition encourages viewers to pursue the art into
    the world outside and to leave the exhibition in order to explore other contexts.
    This reference to the sociocultural context and the viewers’ response defines the
    exhibition’s political dimension. The focus is on the material, which is not solely
    necessary for the existence of these works but forms a complex system of
    implications and references to media and society. Between iconoclasm and
    image overload, autonomy and new forms of representation, the digital image
    needs to find a new position.
    It does so by reflecting upon itself and thus
    pointing to things other than itself.

    The exhibition White, Yellow, Blue, and Black, one Coincidence, and one Object
    addresses the conditions determining both the form and content of monochrome
    art works. The interaction between these closely linked levels is revealed in
    a mutual tension that arises when representing and represented, material and
    meaning come under scrutiny. Form does not become transparent with regard to
    content. On the contrary, when art is viewed it becomes unclear what the
    content is and what the object of representation is.
    [4] In the viewers’
    perception this results in an oscillation between artwork, exhibition display, and
    media references, the political dimensions of which unfold in the etheric realm
    of the space–time continuum. It is this tension arising between art and politics,
    with neither of the two representing or instrumentalizing the other, that it is
    possible for art to become political. For art to develop a political dimension it is
    therefore necessary to approach the sensory world or the arrangement of the
    original material in a way that is different from what traditional political
    categories would appear to suggest.
    [5]—Autonomy could therefore be said to
    arise from the Here and Now when art is viewed.

    In this context, The White Website (2002) and The Black Website (2002) by carry modernist trends into a digital environment: the artist
    duo has set up websites with white and black monochrome surfaces. An
    accompanying essay by Hans Ulrich Obrist puts into words what the art shows
    on the screen: To be able to maintain its significance up against the sciences
    and their picture-producing procedures, art must look for a position beyond the
    crisis of representation and beyond the image wars straight into the blind spaces
    of the black black and the white.

    Referring to Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square (1913) and his white square
    (Suprematist Composition: White on White, 1918) Michael Kargl applies
    reductionist forms to the phenomenon of obsession with science and technology:
    his webzen (2009) not only points to Nam June Paik, one of the originators of
    media art, but also paraphrases spiritually motivated strategies, which are
    mediated in the programming code on which the work is based. Charles
    , in turn, uses auto-generation to transform his personal reflections on
    opportunities for collaborating on the Internet into a collective, participatory
    process: Let’s Turn This Fucking Website (2007–2008) is the title of
    his website and also a clear instruction on what is to be done to turn a black
    monochrome surface into a yellow one. The responsibility in this time-based
    process lies entirely within the network.

    For Blue Monochrome .com (2008), Jan Robert Leegte articulates his critique of
    representation by drawing on the abundant freely available images on the World
    Wide Web. A simple zoom on the Pacific Ocean through Google Earth not only
    yields a view of a readymade—the blue, relief-like surface of the water—but also
    permits an insight into the economics of contemporary information hierarchies.
    The colour blue, that is, the colour clearly identified in art history and colour
    technology as International Klein Blue, is also the point of departure for Ryan
    Barone’s International Klein Blue (Google Monochromes)
    (2008). By presenting
    an endless sequence of eleven variants of one and the same—allegedly
    standardized—colour, which he discovered in a simple Google search, the artist
    disproves the assumption that categories like originality and authenticity count
    as parameters for digital art.

    The random appearance of hexadecimal colour codes provides the basis for
    Reynald Drouhin’s playful localization of virtual spaces, too. Deliberately ignoring
    users’ rights to free choice, he has programmed his IP Monochrome (2006) to
    generate colour surfaces on the basis of data about the location of the computer
    that is accessing his site. The resulting surfaces may be read as representations
    of the real context.

    Michael Kargl’s computer object all you can see (2008) also
    gives material form in real space to what is actually virtual. In a linear process
    lasting eight days, the artist displays all of the nearly 17 million colours that any
    computer screen is theoretically able to represent, proceeding from black to
    white, colour by colour, surface by surface, code by code, until perception
    arrives at zero.

    Birgit Rinagl & Franz Thalmair

    [1] Cf. Weibel, Peter: Postmediale Kondition (Exhibition in the context of the art fair Arco, Centro Cultural Conde Duque, Madrid), 2006, online available under:

    [2] Röbl, Marie: Abstrakte Erb- und Patenschaft. Streiflichter auf Hintergründe,
    Kategorien und Raster, in: Pfaffenbichler, Norbert and Droschl, Sandro (Hg.): Abstraction Now (exhibition catalogue, Künstlerhaus, Vienna) 2004, p. 36, online available under:

    [3] Greenberg, Clement: Modernistische Malerei, in: Harrison, Charles and Wood, Paul (eds.): Kunsttheorie im 20. Jahrhundert. Künstlerschriften, Kunstkritik, Kunstphilosophie, Manifeste, Statements, Interviews, Hatje Cantz: Ostfildern - Ruit, vol. II, 2003, p. 931-937

    [4] Rebentisch, Juliane: Zur Aktualität ästhetischer Autonomie. Juliane Rebentisch im
    Gespräch mit Loretta Fahrenholz und Hans - Christian Lotz, in: Huber, Tobias and
    Steinweg, Marcus (eds.): Inästhetik. Theses on Contemporary Art, Diaphanes,
    Zurich/Berlin, 2008, p. 116

    [5] Höller, Christian: Ästhetischer Dissens – Überlegungen zum Politisch - Werden der Kunst, in: Saxenhuber, Hedwig: Kunst + Politik. Aus der Sammlung der Stadt Wien, Springer, Vienna/New York, 2008, p. 190


    Supported by City of Velika Gorica and Ministry of Culture of Republica Croatia. Sponsored by Combis []