always sends messages to the
imagination and subjectivity'
nothing of artists
'the invisible is real' - Walter de Maria -
... artists often focus on transforming, changing and creating
something out of nothing or nothing out of something. they celebrate
that which is in-between, that which is different, fake, alternative,
new and avant-garde. in more or less playful ways they negotiate
nothingness and the unknown ...
... Suprematist monochromes and nihilistic Dadaist protestations
from the beginning of the century was echoed in the 1950s painters
exploration of the limiting process of going from polychrome
to monochrome to nullichrome. the American abstract artist Ad
Reinhardt toured the leading galleries in America, London and
Paris in 1963 with a series of five-foot square all-black productions.
not surprisingly, some critics condemned him as a charlatan
but others admired his art noir: 'an ultimate statement of esthetic
purity', according to American art commentator Hilton Kramer.
it is a challenge to purists to decide whether Reinhardt's all-black
canvases capture the representation of nothing more completely
than the all-white canvases of Robert Rauschenberg. or you might
prefer the spectacular splash of colors in Jasper Johns' The
the sixties spawned a host of immaterial works of art made from
microwaves, electromagnetic fields, ultrasonic sound, inert
gases or just pure thought. a major concern for these artists
was questioning the idea of what we see before us. they examined
the part that material qualities play in supplying evidence
of an artwork that may exist purely in the imagination.
recently artists have tested and parodied these works and ideas.
Keith Tysons telepathic invitation to collaborate - resulting
in a blank canvas and Pierre Bismuths blue wall a slightly
different color blue that you cant see. these artists
make playful homage to Robert Barrys telepathic piece,
made in 1969, and Yves Kleins patented color International
Klein Blue. Tacita Deans sound work Trying to find
the Spiral Jetty is a recent recording of her search for
Robert Smithsons land sculpture in Great Salt Lake, Utah,
USA, 1970, now submerged.
net.art has often appeared as info-ecological efforts to insert
into info-sphere a conceptualized pause. producing a critique
of image industry in the times of overproduction, when the amount
of produced information is much higher than the capabilities
to consume it.
the artists of the Renaissance discovered the visual zero for
themselves in the fifteenth century and it became the centerpiece
of a new representation of the world that allowed an infinite
number of manifestations. the 'vanishing point' is a device
to create a realistic picture of a three-dimensional scene on
a flat surface. the painter fools the eye of the viewer by imagining
lines which connect the objects being represented to the viewer's
eye. the canvas is just a screen that intervenes between the
real scene and the eye. where the imaginary lines intersect
that screen, the artist places his marks. lines running parallel
to the screen are represented by parallel lines which recede
to the line of the distant horizon, but those seen as perpendicular
to the screen are represented by a cone of lines that converge
towards a single point — the vanishing point — which creates
the perspective of the spectator.
musicians have also followed the piper down the road to nothingtown.
John Cage's musical composition 4,33 consists of 4 minutes and
33 seconds of unbroken silence, rendered by a skilled pianist
wearing evening dress and seated motionless on the piano stool
in front of an operational Steinway. Cage explains that his
idea is to create the musical analogue of absolute zero where
all thermal motion stops.
writers have embraced the theme with equal enthusiasm. Elbert
Hubbard's elegantly bound Essay on Silence contains only blank
pages, as does a chapter in the autobiography of the English
footballer Len Shackleton which bears the title 'What the average
director knows about football'. an empty volume, entitled The
Nothing Book, was published in 1974 and appeared in several
editions and even withstood a breach of copyright action by
the author of another book of blank pages. another style of
writing uses Nothing as a fulcrum around which to spin opposites
that cancel. Gogol's Dead Souls begins with a description of
a gentleman with no characteristics arriving at a town known
only as N.: "the gentleman in their carriage was not handsome
but neither was he particularly bad-looking; he was neither
too fat nor too thin; he could not be said to be too old, but
he was not too young either." attributes and counter-attributes
are canceled out to zero.
- partly based on text by John D.
for further readings do
a search in our search center or go to the nothing of November
at ROOSEUM, Malmö's Center for Contemporary Art, 3 November
- 16 December, 2001
back to main
for the guide is gratefully accepted