Group exhibition, Velika Gorica/Croatia:
White, Yellow, Blue, and Black, one Coincidence, and one Object.

White, Yellow, Blue... @ Galerija Galzenica

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 in conversation with 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 non-representational tendencies in contemporary art; these ideas need to be taken still further in the age of the digital image. The notion of a ‘pure’ medium proposed by 20th-century modernism with its ideals of autonomy is increasingly being displaced 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? What ways of reading the Internet have users developed? 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.” (2)

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 socio-cultural 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 UBERMORGEN.COM 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 Broskoski, 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 Yellow .com (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.

References:
(1) See Peter Weibel, Postmediale Kondition (Exhibition in the context of the art fair Arco, Centro Cultural Conde Duque, Madrid), http://vmk.zhdk.ch/flz/postmediale_kondition_weibel.pdf (June 12, 2010).
(2) Marie Röbl, Abstrakte Erb- und Patenschaft. Streiflichter auf Hintergründe, Kategorien und Raster, in: Norbert Pfaffenbichler and Sandro Droschl (eds.): Abstraction Now, Edition Camera Austria, Graz, 2004, p. 36.
(3) Clement Greenberg, Modernistische Malerei, in: Charles Harrison and Paul Wood (eds.): Kunsttheorie im 20. Jahrhundert. Künstlerschriften, Kunstkritik, Kunstphilosophie, Manifeste, Statements, Interviews, Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern-Ruit, Vol. II, 2003, p. 931-937.
(4) Juliane Rebentisch, Zur Aktualität ästhetischer Autonomie. Juliane Rebentisch im Gespräch mit Loretta Fahrenholz und Hans-Christian Lotz, in: Tobias Huber and Marcus Steinweg (eds.), Inästhetik. Theses on Contemporary Art, Diaphanes, Zurich/Berlin, 2008, p. 116.
(5) Christian Höller, Ästhetischer Dissens. Überlegungen zum Politisch-Werden der Kunst, in: Hedwig Saxenhuber, Kunst + Politik. Aus der Sammlung der Stadt Wien, Springer, Vienna/New York, 2008, p. 190.

UBERMORGEN.COM, The White Website (2002)

UBERMORGEN.COM
The White Website (2002) | Website
http://www.ubermorgen.com/THE_WHITE_WEBSITE

The White Website of UBERMORGEN.COM refers to the crises of representation that began when photography first found its way into fine arts. The essay On the Iconoclasm of Modern Art by Hans Ulrich Obrist appears as a pop-up window as soon as the website is activated: the text carries forward the history of art from the moment when “the material-bound, object-like paradigm was replaced by insight into the linguistic nature of all artistic expressions”—or, in an additional essay by Paulo Herkenhoff, hidden in the source code and simply in the form of the virtual, elusive white.

Biography — Lizvlx, born in 1973 in Linz/AT, lives and works in Vienna/AT and St. Moritz/CH | founding member of 194.152.164.137 and UBERMORGEN.COM | Exhibitions (selection): NiMK, Amsterdam/NL; City Gallery, Ljubljana/SL; CCA, Tel Aviv/IL; Eyebeam, New York/US; HMKV, Dortmund/DE

Biography — Hans Bernhard, born in 1971 in New Haven/CT/US, lives and works in Vienna/AT and St. Moritz/CH | Degree from the University of applied arts, Vienna/AT (visual media design), founding member of the etoy.CORPORATION and UBERMORGEN.COM | Exhibitions (selection): NiMK, Amsterdam/NL; City Gallery, Ljubljana/SL; CCA, Tel Aviv/IL; Eyebeam, New York/US; HMKV, Dortmund/DE

Michael Kargl, webzen (2009)

Michael Kargl
webzen (2009) | Website
http://michaelkargl.com/webzen/

Untitled document—no name, no content, no design, but still: Michael Kargl’s website webzen attracts a great deal of attention when regular browsing is suddenly interrupted by visiting this Internet address. The art work webzen tries to leave conceptual thinking, to understand life as the art of abandon and to experience reality beyond duality and logical thinking as well as beyond space and time. It tries to overcome itself by means of meditation of the most essential formulas of source code: html, head, title, body—system, spirit, concept, body. Nevertheless, overcoming itself would only be possible if this website had never existed.

Biography — Michael Kargl, born in 1975 in Hall/AT, lives and works in Vienna/AT | Degree from the University Mozarteum Salzburg/AT (sculpture) | Exhibitions (selection): On Gaps and Silent Documents, STUK arts centre, Leuven/DK (2010); Quasi dasselbe…? Diskurse mit poetischer Funktion, Kunstpavillon der Tiroler Künstlerschaft, Innsbruck/AT (2010); Interzone/Economy, Galerija Galzenica, Velika Gorica/HR (2009); anti-bodies, Art & Social Technologies Research, Plymouth/GB (2009); Paraflows — Utopia, MAK-Gegenwartskunstdepot, Vienna/AT (2008)

Charles Broskoski, Let’s Turn This Fucking Website Yellow .com (2007-2008)

Charles Broskoski
Let’s Turn This Fucking Website Yellow .com (2007-2008) | Website
http://letsturnthisfuckingwebsiteyellow.com

Monochromacity as the result of a participatory process: in September 2007 Charles Broskoski’s entirely white, single-serving website entitled Let’s Turn This Fucking Website Yellow .com went online. Consisting of an explicit address (URL)—to be understood at the same time as a call for action—and one single index page, it was designed as a collaborative experiment: each visit produced a yellow pixel. With each reload the site inevitably became more and more yellow. On March 09, 2008, about seven months after its launch, the experiment was successfully completed: “Thank you”.

Biography — Charles Broskoski, born in 1982 in Texas/US, lives and works in New York/NY/US | Degree from The New School, New York/NY/US | Exhibitions (selection): Multiplex, peer to space, Munich/DE (2010); Better Brain, The Future Gallery, Berlin/DE (2010); Argot, Plan B, Amsterdam/NL (2009); As Small As It Gets, Gallery Art Since The Summer of ’69, New York/NY/US (2009); endless pot of gold cd-rs, Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah/US (2009)

Jan Robert Leegte, Blue Monochrome .com (2008)

Jan Robert Leegte
Blue Monochrome .com (2008) | Website
http://bluemonochrome.com

Longitude, latitude, focus, final destination: Pacific Ocean. Jan Robert Leegte’s Blue Monochrome .com uses Google Earth tools to transform satellite images of the world’s water surface into ready-mades. Geographic coordinates are linked to the coordinates of a website, the real space is linked to the virtual; the title of the artwork represents, at a linguistic level, what can be seen in the picture: a granulated blue surface with minimal elevations, which can immediately be associated with thick acrylic on canvas. A view of the world according to Google’s view of the world.

Biography — Jan Robert Leegte, born in 1973, lives and works in Amsterdam/NL | Degree from the University Willem de Kooning, Rotterdam/NL (fine arts), and from the University Delft/NL (architecture) | Exhibitions (selection): Contemporary Semantics Beta (A delicious day), Arti et Amicitiae, Amsterdam/NL; Jan Robert Leegte, HBgalerie, Rotterdam/NL; Route du Nord – Zwaanshals Galleryroute, HB Galerie, Rotterdam/NL; Unfinished Business / Dutch Abstracts, Kunstverein Medienturm, Graz/AT, Under the Surface, RC de Ruimte, IJmuiden/NL; Wilde Metafysica, Kunsthuis SYB, Beetsterzwaag/NL; Cleotronics 08, ACAF, Alexandria/Egypt; Hello, Goodbye, Nieuwe Video, Haarlem/NL; Plastic, The White Hotel, Brussels/BE

Ryan Barone, International Klein Blue (Google Monochromes) (2008)

Ryan Barone
International Klein Blue (Google Monochromes) (2008) | Website
http://www.ryanbarone.com/international-klein-blue-google-monochromes.html

Yves Klein’s patent for the International Klein Blue (IKB, =PB29, =CI 77007), a colour patent that the French artist applied for in the 1950s, seems to have no more meaning on the Internet. Ryan Barone’s International Klein Blue (Google Monochromes) is the result of a Google research into colour fastness, showing eleven different monochrome blue colour squares. The result of the research into International Klein Blue leads into inaccuracy and faultiness, but finally back to Yves Klein’s fascination for the colour blue: contemplation.

Biography — Ryan Barone, born in 1985 in Gloversville, NY/US, lives and works in Southern Mississippi/US | Degree from The College of Saint Rose, and from Rochester Institute of Technology, New York/NY/US | Exhibitions (selection): Younger Than Janis, Noble & Superior Projects, Chicago/IL/US; Waves, Serial Chillers in Paradise, online under jstchillin.org; One Hour Photo, American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, Washington, D.C./US; An Immaterial Survey of Our Peers, Sullivan Galleries of the School of The Art Institute of Chicago/IL/US and online under an immaterial survey of our peers. tumblr.com; NETescopio, Museo Extremeño e Iberoamericano de Arte Contemporáneo, Badajoz/ES and online under netescopio.meiac.es

UBERMORGEN.COM, The Black Website (2002)

UBERMORGEN.COM
The Black Website (2002) | Website
http://www.ubermorgen.com/THE_BLACK_WEBSITE

The Black Website of UBERMORGEN.COM refers to the crises of representation that began when photography found its way into fine arts. The essay On the Iconoclasm of Modern Art by Hans Ulrich Obrist appears as a pop-up window as soon as the website is reactivated: it continues art history at the moment where “the material-bound, object-like paradigm was replaced by insight into the linguistic nature of all artistic expressions”—or, in an additional essay by Paulo Herkenhoff, hidden in the source code and simply in form of the virtual, elusive black.

Biography — Lizvlx, born in 1973 in Linz/AT, lives and works in Vienna/AT and St. Moritz/CH | founding member of 194.152.164.137 and UBERMORGEN.COM | Exhibitions (selection): NiMK, Amsterdam/NL; City Gallery, Ljubljana/SL; CCA, Tel Aviv/IL; Eyebeam, New York/US; HMKV, Dortmund/DE

Biography — Hans Bernhard, born in 1971 in New Haven/CT/US, lives and works in Vienna/AT and St. Moritz/CH | Degree from the University of applied arts, Vienna/AT (visual media design), founding member of the etoy.CORPORATION and UBERMORGEN.COM | Exhibitions (selection): NiMK, Amsterdam/NL; City Gallery, Ljubljana/SL; CCA, Tel Aviv/IL; Eyebeam, New York/US; HMKV, Dortmund/DE

Reynald Drouhin, IP Monochrome (2006)

Reynald Drouhin
IP Monochrome (2006) | Website
http://www.incident.net/works/ipm

Anyone loading Reynald Drouhin’s website IP Monochrome inevitably generates a monochrome colour square through the IP address of their computer. The code number of the IP address is suddenly transformed into RGB (red-green-blue) values and hexadecimal codes to be released as an individual colour reference. Without their permission being asked, the spectators of the artwork (users) become creators of a monochrome colour field that is unknown until its realisation: monochromacity serving as a localised identity within a virtual network.

Biography — Reynald Drouhin, born in 1969 in Paris/FR, lives and works in Paris and Rennes/FR | Degree from the Paris Fine Arts School (DNSAP) and from the University Paris 1/FR (sculpture), member of the artist group Incident.net, represented by www.dextergallery.com | Exhibitions (selection): Ce qui vient, Biennal d’art contemporain Rennes/FR (2010); Ghost Walk, Galerie Numeriscausa, Paris/FR (2008/2009); Sans titre, Galerie des beaux-arts, Lorient/FR (2006); Biennale de Montréal, art électronique, Montréal/ QC/CDN (2000); ISEA, Paris/FR and Chicago/IL/US (2000/1997)

Michael Kargl, all you can see (2008)

Michael Kargl
all you can see (2008) | Custom-made computer, shell-script
http://michaelkargl.com/opusmagnum

Michael Kargl’s all you can see continues the reflections and theories about the end of painting that have been known from art history for a long time. In the video object, monochromacity is transformed into a play on the extension of the material. The time-based representation of structures visualises the background processes. Exhausting all structural preconditions, the artist sequentially lines up all possible 17 million different colours of a computer screen. The result is an eight-day-long changing process from black to white at a rate of 25 pictures per second.

Biography — Michael Kargl, born in 1975 in Hall/AT, lives and works in Vienna/AT | Degree from the University Mozarteum Salzburg/AT (sculpture) | Exhibitions (selection): On Gaps and Silent Documents, STUK arts centre, Leuven/DK (2010); Quasi dasselbe…? Diskurse mit poetischer Funktion, Kunstpavillon der Tiroler Künstlerschaft, Innsbruck/AT (2010); Interzone/Economy, Galerija Galzenica, Velika Gorica/HR (2009); anti-bodies, Art & Social Technologies Research, Plymouth/GB (2009); Paraflows – Utopia, MAK-Gegenwartskunstdepot, Vienna/AT (2008)



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