Opacity appears precisely when darkness is made explicit.
— Thomas Metzinger, Being No One
L’avenir est tout noir.
— Eugène Delacroix, Journal, April 7, 1824
Marketing speaks (to) us in an amalgam—garbled-to-order—of discursive resources adopted from any tradition whatsoever. Its promises of enhanced performance and well-being appropriate at leisure from the registers of evolutionary biology, neurochemistry, and nutritionism, as well as those of spiritual epiphany and self-realization. The optimization of the self becomes both the object of intense research and development (“the science bit”) and the subject of aspirational identity (“because I’m worth it”). The human as absorber and reflector of symbols is coupled with the human as opaque object to be dosed, modulated, and detoxed. And yet, confronted by (and even exploiting) scientific discourses that threaten to corrode our sense of identity and agency, the product continues to demand as its mirror a self that is introspectively available, and is the essential and ever-present center of experience.
In Being No One: The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity, philosopher Thomas Metzinger describes how neuroscience can furnish an account of the self that diverges radically from this first-person perspective:1 If a conscious information-processing system is a model representing its environment, the “self-model” embedded within it models this very activity of representation. In so doing, however, it must occlude the mechanism of representation itself; it is experienced not as a continual process of modeling, but as an spontaneously available reality. This occlusion, notes Metzinger, is an evolutionary advantage since it prevents an excessive recursivity that would not be instrumental for the organism. As a matter of efficiency, “being there” is experienced as a given. The first-person point of view—the experience of the self as an immediate yet unfathomable phenomenon through which all experience passes—is an instrumental screening that sequesters the model from the very process of representation that generates it.2
Providing the precise logic of the necessary non-manifestation of the mechanisms of manifestation,3 Metzinger’s hypothesis poses in particularly acute form the effectively nihilist philosophical vector opened up by the cumulative effects of the modern scientific image of the world: Not only are the earth and its inhabitants governed by material processes that our brains, evolved for animal survival, have little intuitive purchase on, but for the same reasons we ourselves are not as our phenomenological self-image would have us. What we experience as a transparent, unproblematic relation to self, as a realm of inner experience, consists, in fact, in an opacity that protects consciousness from an abyss of sub-personal and sub-symbolic processes. The luminous clearing in which the world comes to presence, is rather a “special form of darkness,”4 an “object emulator” screening the thing that thinks from its production.
This nihilist logic of transparency and opacity lies at the heart of Pamela Rosenkranz’s work. Operating in the common space of that core self that we are invited to discover through identification with consumer objects, and the transcendence claimed by certain modes of artistic subjectivity, her practice brings together the symbolic resources of both. That is to say, her conceptual works exist in the space where the transparency of meaning and the transcendence of self meet in a supposed blind spot. In Rosenkranz’s oeuvre, materials customarily refined, purified, and smoothed out so as to render their symbolic function transparent are forced to rudely announce their contingency, appearing as so much dead matter clustered around an empty center. And the self that appears in their mirror is revealed by the artist as a generic patchwork of abstract signifiers clinging to the same void. Thus, the con of the concepts presented by Rosenkranz—that which holds them together—is a symbolic absence or an absence-in-symbol, just as the con of the concept as such, that with which we think, is a void for sense.
The empty core around which Rosenkranz’s readymade materials are assembled consists of elementary aesthetic cues such as color and human corporeality, often spoken of in the same philosophical breath as first-person consciousness, in terms of qualitative irreducibility.5 In so doing, the artist interrogates the way that both art and commercial visual culture propose such cues as a mirror in which the self can be recognized, cultivated, specified, or exalted; and she systematically erects an impediment to this narcissistic complicity, obstinately refusing to participate in or to compound it further.
As such, the work presents us with the same dilemma that Metzinger isolates when he weighs the possibility of a neuroscientific account being “culturally integrated”—in so far as we retain our faith in the property of selfhood, it is impossible for us to be convinced of the self-model theory. On the other hand, to truly think it—to see the darkness for what it is—would mean there was no longer a self to be edified. In this alternative between a self whose constitution is foreclosed by transparency, and a thinking that voids the self, we encounter a thick darkness, an opacity. If this utter contingency from which we trust products and works to shield us cannot be exhibited in Rosenkranz’s disparate works, it certainly constitutes their vanishing point.
EGA #0000AA or the Screening of the Void
G. E. Moore, The Refutation of Idealism6
The static blue screen of Rosenkranz’s video work Death of Yves Klein (2011) recalls a traumatic (albeit regular) experience for Microsoft Windows users throughout the 1990s. When the operating system encountered a catastrophic error, the carefully crafted and reassuring Windows interface would vanish to reveal a uniform blue screen etched, in frozen white text, with an arcane post-mortem report wherein enigmatic, clotted acronyms denoted esoteric ailments. Finally, the blue screen announced the terminal act of the deceased operating system: the secretion of a physical memory dump or core dump containing all the current contents of memory, on whose basis a technician’s forensic analysis might reconstruct the etiology of the fatal error.
This particular hue, which gave rise to the colloquial name “Blue Screen of Death” (especially after its unwelcome appearance at Bill Gates’s high-profile launch of Windows 98 at COMDEX), becomes in Rosenkranz’s work a testamentary double for International Klein Blue—the specially-formulated paint through which Yves Klein sought to “conduct immateriality.” Klein conceived his refinement of painterly color, in turn, as a “foothold in the visible to cross the threshold into the invisible.” Thus he presented his monochromes as the penultimate step toward an art purified, entirely unburdened of materiality, and delivered to what he would call, famously, “the void.”
Beyond the misleadingly obvious (see Klein’s episodic dedication to esoteric lore like Heindel’s Rosicrucianism, and to the martial arts of judo) but equally as a final consummation of his earnest dedication to those disciplines, the substantive operation of Klein’s “void” emerges in an encounter with a more orthodox sensei: “My monochrome propositions are landscapes of freedom; I am an impressionist and a disciple of Delacroix,” he noted in 1957.7 It is in Delacroix’s journal, invariably cited when Klein recounts the history of the monochromes, that the artist found the resources to maintain the figure of the ‘”great artist” while stripping it of painterly specificity. And it is Delacroix’s claim that the “merit of the painting lies in the indefinable: that which escapes exact description”8 that allows Klein to don his white gloves, redefining the artist as he who effectively extracts this indefinable from the matrix of painterly labor. The repeated citing of the following passage gives clue to Klein’s interpretation of his “indefinable”:
Klein would henceforth dedicate himself to conducting this immaterial energy—the health, the secret joy that Delacroix strove to capture in oils—while at the same time vesting his own signature with the authority to mark it. The artist, thus, comes to be defined by an extraordinary sensitivity to moments of resplendent transparency. Exercising the “recurrent will of the painter to conserve the traces of instants he had lived intensely,”10 Klein attempts to absolutize Delacroix’s proto-impressionist optical intensification and colorism,11 so as to register the “spiritual mark of these momentary states in my monochromes.” Or: “I thus paint the pictorial moment that is born of an illumination by impregnation into life itself,”12 for “the originality of a painter has never had need of a subject.”13
In this way, Klein will be able to claim his work to be nothing but the effect of this impregnation by the void. It is passive, like a photographic negative; it is without labor, unlike that handled by an artisan. His hyper-impressionist judo demands that he become a passive medium (the sponge) absorbing the reality of these momentary states of lived experience, marking “immaterial pictorial states” so as, eventually “to be able to live the ‘moment’ continually.”14 But such is the Kleinian void: The “highly enriching cure of aesthetic silence” (as Pierre Restany writes in the 1956 invite to the Propositions Monochromes) is none other than the bourgeois rest-cure of Delacroix’s garden inflated to cosmic proportions. The monochromes herald an intense self-enjoyment experienced as an extraordinary openness and transparency, a release from both physical and mental constraints, and Klein identifies this experience with both life and the void.
Rosenkranz’s re-presentation of IKB impoverishes it materially, from a chemical innovation that pays ultimate homage to and deepens the painter’s mastery of color, to the cheap, mass-produced consumer-electronics glow of a plasma screen. At the same time, Death of Yves Klein (2011) impoverishes its predecessor chromatically, strong-arming the pure pigment used in IKB to maximize intensity into the RGB-additive color model that such devices use to render the spectrum through quantized combinations of red, green, and blue. But, even more profoundly, Rosenkranz’s work proposes a confrontation between two distinct voids. Her RGB ersatz of IKB indexes the deflationary perspective suggested by the accompanying portrait of the great artist as a neurochemical core-dump. This complementary soundtrack, “read” by a automated voice, synopsizes the terminal state of Klein’s artistic subjectivity as a stew of nicotine, amphetamine, and paint-thinners with a fatal side-order of cortisol to go, administered by Mondo Cane’s cheap sullying of his monotone symphony: [“Working with paints and thinners can be harmful … Amphetamines contribute to heart attacks … Smoking is dangerous … Pigments enter the skin … Stress hormones constrict blood vessels …” ]. Here, the artist is not impregnated by the void qua plenum of nature, but voided by way of a naturalization that overturns the cosmic provenance of the artist’s inner experience, reducing the epiphany of the void to chemically-induced neuropathy.
The Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) provides further precision as to what is at stake here. The most plausible explanation for Microsoft’s choice seems to be that blue is the most calm-inducing of the colors available in EGA mode (the eight subsisting two-bit colors available to a graphics system whose higher-level systems have been shut down). In the face of disaster, the color blue continues to exude a cool, confident technocratism,15 like an impeccably-suited consultant come to deliver bad news. Ameliorating the user’s frustrated resignation to irretrievable data loss, and in contrast to the finely swept gradients of corporate teal in which the Windows user experience was traditionally garbed, the depthless blue of this chromatic nirvana is a glimpse of yet another void. It is the color of the last remaining emollient mask before the grand illusion of the “user experience” itself gives way to the mute and opaque meshwork of code libraries it always was. BSoD blue is not the unveiling of an infinite transparent depth but the distressed advent of the penultimate screen: It is at once a reduced form of instrumental occlusion—the interface—and an encrypted report of its malfunctioning. According to this other voiding, the phenomenological indescribable in whose immediacy Klein places his faith is a mere subroutine of an operating system that, in extremis, persists in registering its faltering state as revelation of a translucid depth.
It is Derek Jarman’s testamentary film Blue (1993) that realizes the transit, within Rosenkranz’s concept, between these two voids—between Klein’s dreams of the artist as conduit for the infinite, and the exposition of his terminal state as a chemical breakdown. In Jarman’s film, the blue of the damaged retina stands first for the fear of the loss of artistic vision (through the catastrophic failure of its sensory and corporeal support), and subsequently for a triumph over this fear. It heralds a “universal Blue” that is the “universal love in which man bathes,” the “terrestrial paradise” that “transcends the solemn geography of human limits” and in which all is dialectically resolved, identity indifferentiated, and the “pandemonium of image” becalmed. Rosenkranz’s own work endows this redemptive vector with a cruel reversibility, as universal Blue backs up into systems crash.
Methylene Blue, or Void Indicator
In Rosenkranz’s larger body of work, the art object continues to be riddled from every quarter by the corrosive consequences of materialism. In Because they tried to bore holes in my greatest and most beautiful work (2011–12), the artisanal contingencies of artists materials (the shortcomings of online simulacra of IKB works, the printing and mounting process) return to wreak their revenge, conspiring comically to despoil the perfection of the void. It seems that the verminous irritation that bores holes in the artist’s vision can be excluded neither from the residual materiality necessary to channel the void, nor from the self seeks absolution in its infinite embrace. Rosenkranz forces the artist, at the moment when he believes triumphantly to have secured his realm, determining and exercising authority over the channels through which he will be impregnated, to confront his parasitical relation to the contingencies of materiality and his own natural history.
Her revisiting of Klein’s Anthropometries operate on a similar disruption. Klein’s body prints allowed the audience to receive the energy of the void through the ramified clear channel of IKB, physical gesture, and corporeal élan, this immediacy being enabled, notably, by the removal of the artist from the process. But according to Rosenkranz, the removal of the obstacle of individual expression and representation, far from overcoming the problematic of art, leaves in place a more profound facture: the indelible mark of the artist’s trust in the self-authenticating authority of the feeling of great health, and the speculative faith in its transcendental referent (Klein’s void). In series such as “The Most Important Body of Water is Yours” (2010), the materiality of the works becomes an obstacle to this aforementioned immaculate transmission of grace. As well as explicitly reintroducing the artist as a mediating element in the production (the imprint of the body is transferred as a monoprint), reminding us that the problematic of art is not so easy to dissolve, Rosenkranz’s works replace the translucidity of IKB with a series of flesh tones on a ground of energetically-hued spandex. Paradoxically, the irresistible symbolic charge of the flesh-color forms incapacitate the gestural potency of the prints themselves, its semiotic density preventing us from responding to their life-energy, muddying the mark of the Kleinian void and leaving us with nothing but the opaque secretion of a symbolic distillate onto an artificially fabricated ground.
In the series “Firm Being” (2009–) meanwhile, plastic water bottles—their crystalline transparency a hyperbolic extension of the purity of their contents, which in turn promises to purify the body of the consumer—are filled instead with a material, again flesh-tone, intended as a prosthetic double for human skin, in a gross reification of symbolic matter. These pieces employ their minimal palette of symbols in such a way as to strip them of their semantic transparency or their mirroring effect. Since we no longer find in them the luminous translucency corresponding to our internal depth, their promise to impregnate us with that indefinable something becomes opaque and, finally, baffling. In a later series, “Firm Being (Content Water)” (2012), the same bottles are filled with latex material simulating various shades of urine, another physical memory dump exemplifying the faith in aesthetic qualities as an indicator of well-being or sickness. The truth of this work, drawing it together with the more recent references to Klein, is found in what can now only be read retrospectively as a spectral collaboration between the older artist and the yet-to-be conceived Rosenkranz, staged in the pissoirs of La Coupole following the 1958 opening of the exhibition “The Specialization of Sensitivity in the State of Prime Matter as Stabilized Pictorial Sensitivity.” During the opening of this show, Klein served a cocktail of gin, Cointreau, and methylene blue. Used in the lab as a chemical indicator because it turns blue with oxidisation, as it left the body this last ingredient provided the artist’s guests with conclusive confirmation that they had indeed been impregnated by the void.
Chromakey Blue, or A Subject-Shaped Hole
Recall that, in full recognition of the revolution in color initiated by Delacroix and consummated by Impressionism, Yves the Monochrome engaged with color as a materiality, freed from its associative bonds, from “our chains […] our mortal state, our sentiment, our intellect […] our heredity, our education […] our psychological world.” But simultaneously, with IKB Klein consolidates his monopoly over phenomenological production: the indefinable or “ineffable poetic moment”16 becomes the product of Yves Klein, Painter. IKB is a triumph of objective colorism put into the service of an absolute subjectivist phenomenology. (Klein does the science bit, but only because he’s worth it.)
As Thierry De Duve has argued,17 in wishing simultaneously to separate the void from the manufactured object, and to maintain authority qua artist over its conduction, Klein creates a parody of avant-garde utopia. Instead of identifying art with labor power, with a view to liberating it, returning to each man his generic creativity, Klein the artist becomes identified with the owner of the means of production. In other words, Klein-the-artisan-painter is exploited (and ideally, made redundant) by Klein-the-great-artist (the painter who does not paint), as the latter imparts the value-add, or the mystical element of pictorial quality whose degree of impregnation ultimately can only be verified by the sanction of experts (the critics and officials who preside over immaterial transactions), as well as by the differential prices fetched by apparently identical works.18
If Klein thus clear-sightedly anticipates that the art market will come as close as possible to a pure financial market, precisely because its prices maintain no relation to the conditions of production,19 his self-mystification consists in attributing the price not to his astute manipulations but to some immaterial quality or indefinable. The immateriality of Klein’s work, in other words, is real, and its material presence is indeed but ashes; but the alchemical transmutation that has taken place is a financial one:. the invisible “value of the picture” lies the “hidden social relation … brutally revealed through its price,”20 a social relation mystified by the claim that the artist’s signature marks the difference between artisanal and artistic work, between manufacture and cosmic aspiration. In short, Klein the “mystified mystifier”21 buys into his own branding.
By selling the void, Klein thus astutely identifies the full (the plenum of nature, channeled by the artist) with the empty (pure exchange). From this point of view, it is but a short distance from Klein’s “leap into the void” to a commercial for basketball sneakers that promises to make us “walk on air,” as if a gel sole could cleanse the soul—a therapeutics recalled in Rosenkranz’s I Almost Forgot that ASICS Means Anima Sana in Corpore Sano (2007), in which a pair of sneakers reduced to leaden materiality are situated shamefaced in a corner). And Klein’s void-saturated sponge becomes an apt figure for the fact that our purchase on the ineffable—the desire to imbibe nature, to soak it up and thus re-establish our continuity with it—is conducted at the limit of its disappearance into pure exchange, through a refined palette of symbols, of which color is the so-called purest exemplar.
Here the chromatic concept at work in Death of Yves Klein suggests another association: the chroma-key blue before which actors interact in the void with nonexistent characters and scenery that will in post-production take the place of the precisely-hued backdrop. A blue, then, that is not a color but an abstract general equivalent whose consistency can hold the place for any image whatsoever. Since it is the color value furthest from skin tones, blue in particular is chosen for effective chromakey separation of the subject from the background.22 Infinite exchangeability, the abstract general equivalent, or blue as the color of money implies the presence of the subject as its complement: the smear of skin tone on an otherwise arbitrarily substitutable scene that ensures our adherence to every image we inhabit. However, if we look into the detail of the chromakey process, we find that re-photographing footage through a blue filter creates a “female matte” of the actor that will act as a cutout from the background into which, in the final stage, their form will be reinserted. This female matte, the matrix of possibility, presents us with a sombre figure for capitalism’s screening of infinite fantasy – in the as-ever-inspired words of Wikipedia, a “black background with a subject-shaped hole in the middle.”
Perkin’s Mauve, or the Void of the Ancestral
Contrary to the common belief that Klein trademarked his hue, the proprieté industrielle of International Klein Blue in fact consists of a method for the suspension of ultramarine pigment in polyvinyl acetate (C4H6O2), which allows the pigment to retain its glow when dried. But we can only appreciate the full profundity of Klein’s implication in chemical history by setting it against his simultaneous chromaticism. In celebrating the “immense possibilities of colour and its affective resonances upon human sensibility,”23 Klein made room for a gesture yet more magnanimous than his monochrome gifts to the world. He allowed himself to unfold the absolute void of IKB, “the big COLOR”24 into a cosmic swatch, proclaiming that “for me, each nuance of a color is in some way an individual, a being who is not only from the same race as the base color, but who definitely possesses a distinct character and personal soul.”25 Thus emerges the question to which Rosenkranz’s work offers various obstructive responses: What’s your color?
In 1833 Friedlieb Runge, working with coal-tar—a waste product of the extraction of coal and gas that powered the industrial revolution—produced the first synthetic color: cyanol. This discovery would lead to the growth of a chemical industry that would unlock the elements to produce a cavalcade of patented synthetic hues—Perkins mauve, Rosaniline blue, Paris violet, Bismarck brown, Alizarin—from the compacted corpses of forgotten species in the bowels of the earth.
A thousand different molecules waited in the preterite dung. This is the sign of revealing. Of unfolding. This is one meaning of mauve, the first new color on Earth, leaping to Earth’s light from its grave miles and aeons below.26
The burgeoning of new forms of artificialized life and lifestyle and the construction of a new synthetic earth from dead matter locked under the planet’s surface led Adorno (and, in turn, Thomas Pynchon’s Rathenau) to argue that this apparently dynamic and vivacious growth is a deadly illusion. And, furthermore, that modern man surrounds himself with dead matter, with synthetic colors in which he clothes a semblance of life, but which remain as black and dead as the tar from which they were first synthesized. Adorno’s half-forlorn hope for redemption was that modernity should acknowledge the mutual implication of history and nature, admitting that the black magic of coal is indeed still a magic, a vital process in which human experience and nature prove themselves inextricable. Recently, philosopher Ray Brassier has inverted this logic, insisting that instead, the encounter of human history with “ancestral objects” (those that existed before the advent of consciousness) forces a recognition that life was only ever merely mimed by death.27 That is to say, the bountiful blackness of coal bespeaks a more fundamental void, one that is a stranger to the magic of human-historical manifestation. For the very act of the discovery and extraction of these colors is contemporary with the realization that they make manifest chemical potencies that existed before any possible manifestation. Their production is contemporaneous with the discovery of geological time, a time outside phenomenological manifestation and across whose vast span the possibility of this expression—a chance meeting of certain chemical powers with an organism evolved to be sensitive to light28—came about and will perish. The colors that, as secondary extracts, fuel the industrial explosion of social and cultural signification, are therefore also meaningless, blind configurations that existed before and without meaning, before their being colors was even possible. They are substances whose employment in the service of life cannot expunge their ever unseen, lifeless essence.
These stakes can be seen clearly in the quarrel between Chernov and Engels, as adjudicated by Lenin, in which the advent of alizarin—the “colouring matter of the madder, which we no longer trouble to grow […] in the field, but produce much more cheaply and simply from coal tar’ (Engels)—serves to identify ancestrality as the necessary concomitant to industrial chemistry.
A plutonic heredity tars the bright cornucopia of the modern world, rendering it indissociable from a nihilism that is coaleidoscopic in the precise sense that it consists in the scopic manifestation of the eidos of the ancestral harnessed as fuel for a new earth. In picking our own color from the chemical-industrial spectrum, we identify with dead matter, with the universal blackness heralded as the “colour factories […] conjure forth miscellany from non-appearance.”30 Certain of Rosenkranz’s works quietly mark this irony: see the water bottles whose pink and blue slogans promise us access to a product “untouched by man”; the Day-Glo spandex upon which her interrupted anthropometries are printed.
In contemporary consumerist lifestyle culture, the promise of the absolute is spectralized into swatches, ranges, series, and collections, in the whimsical cataloguing and naming of colors, sometimes scarcely distinguishable from each other, all of which Rosenkranz references in her serial works as in the at once potent and meaningless recombinations of their subtitles. More specifically, the works comprising the recent series “Everything is Already Dead” (2012) conjure a range of pitted geological surfaces out of an admixture of Ralph Lauren–branded acrylic paint—available in a wide range of whites, each with its own evocative name—and sugar-rich soft drinks. Rosenkranz thereby once more muddies the waters of pristine aspiration and the celebration of difference, confronting us with their earthly provenance, and implicitly noting that the brain that craves to define itself with these colors must also be sated by glucose synthetically produced alongside them by the same industrial complex. These works act as counterparts to an earlier video entitled Loop Revolution (2009), in which a mirrored view of the surface of the planet becomes an animated Rorschach blot, diagnosing apophenia (the seeing of meaningful patterns where there are none) as a global condition. Ramified into a massive bio-industrial complex smeared across the earth, thinking exacerbates the blind churning of the planet but changes nothing essential, becoming a ‘mystified mystifier’ that at once reflects and screens itself from its own production.
As the blue void spreads out prismatically into a million united colors, it reveals itself to be coextensive with the tar-black void of ancestrality. Unattainable transcendence infinitely spectralized into new ranges, the infinite diversity of lifestyle choices finds its real basis in a mute, lightless substrate from which every color factory draws its potency: the universal black that is Pamela Rosenkranz’s color.
- Thomas Metzinger, Being No One: The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2004).
- Or, in Metzinger’s words, a “structurally anchored deficit in the capacity to gain knowledge about oneself.” Being No One, 564.
- It is important to note that this logic can effectively be separated from the (partly promissory) neuroscientific resources that Metzinger brings to bear upon it. In Deleuze’s reading of Kant, for example, one finds a startlingly similar logic in operation between the phenomenal self and the Transcendental Ego (See G. Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, tr. P. Patton [London: Continuum, 2004).
- Metzinger, Being No One, 1.69.
- For example, with Lewis’s qualia: discussed by Metzinger, Being No One, 66–83.
- Mind 12 (1903): 433–53.
- Klein, 23 August 1957, quoted in Nicolas Charlet, Les Écrits d’Yves Klein (Paris: Luna-Park, 2005), 129. See, in general, part two of Charlet’s book, Les lectures décisives du Théoricien de l’art.
- Journal of Delacroix, quoted by Klein in “Par la couleur,” cited in Charlet, 142.
- Cited by Klein in “Le Vrai devient realité,” 1960. The passage is also cited in earlier notes by Klein, for whom Delacroix’s journal was a constant reference.
- Cited in Charlet, Les Écrits d’Yves Klein, 137.
- See Éric Alliez and Jean-Clet Martin, L’Oeil-cerveau. Nouvelles histoires de la peinture moderne (Paris: Vrin, 2007). The extent to which Klein finds only what he is seeking for – Delacroix’s ‘indefinable’ ..by which [he] means quality’ (Klein, ‘La France rayonne sur le monde’, cited in Charlet, Charlet, Les Écrits d’Yves Klein, 143) may be indicated by Alliez and Martin’s systematic reading, which locates Delacroix’s will to extricate color from its ‘sentimental role’ (74) and to use painting to ‘amplify […] to prolong […] sensation’ (Delacroix, Journal, 20 October 1853, cited in Alliez and Martin, 146) within a history of a ‘scientific aesthetics’ (126, citing Signac) of the ‘eye-brain’. See Chapter 2 ‘de la + (et de la puissance de la peinture)’, from which I borrow the second epigraph of the present text.
- Klein, “Par la coleur,” cited in Charlet, Les Écrits d’Yves Klein, 138.
- Delacroix, Journal, 13 January 1857, quoted in Alliez and Martin, 73.
- Klein, 1957, quoted in Charlet, Les Écrits d’Yves Klein, 137.
- On “cathode-ray blue” as a quintessentially contemporary color, see S. Lavin, “What Color is Now?”, in Perspecta Vol. 35, 98–111.
- Klein, “Par la couleur,” cited in Charlet, Les Écrits d’Yves Klein, 138.
- T. De Duve, “Yves Klein, or the Dead Dealer,” in October, Vol. 49 (Summer 1989), 72–90.
- See De Duve for the slippage between price, “real value” and “pictorial quality,” 78.
- On this point see S. Malik and A. Philips’s “Tainted Love: Art’s Ethos and Capitalization,” in Contemporary Art and its Commercial Markets (Sternberg Press, 2012).
- De Duve, 79. Klein himself explicitly formulates the direct collapse of alchemical into financial transmutation: ‘All good businessmen are alchemists … all they approach and touch, all they take interest in, becomes related to silver or gold. It is a philosophical stone of sorts that they unconsciously nurture within themselves and that sometimes accords them extraordinary power … What is difficult is discovering this gift of the philosophical stone in each of us’ (Klein, ‘The Monochrome Adventure’).
- De Duve, 79.
- Chroma Key Tutorial. BorisFX, at http://www.borisfx.com/tutorials/chroma_key.php. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
- Letter of 1958, cited in Charlet, Les Écrits d’Yves Klein, 135.
- Klein, “Le dépassement de la problématique de l’art,” cited in Charlet, Les Écrits d’Yves Klein, 143.
- Klein, “Yves Peintures,” 1955.
- Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow. Cited in E. Leslie, Synthetic Worlds (London: Reaktion, 2005). I draw from Leslie’s superb book throughout this section, although to perhaps antagonistic ends.
- R. Brassier, Nihil Unbound (Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2007).
- See Reza Negarestani’s text ‘Darwining the Blue,’ in the same volume this text appears in.
- V.I. Lenin, “Materialism and Empirio-Criticism: Critical Comments on a Reactionary Philosophy” (1908), at http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1908/mec/02.htm. Retrieved March 1, 2012.
- Leslie, Synthetic Worlds, 12, 47.