Colorfield Variations

CURATOR: Richard Chartier

This program is available with additional exclusive works as a limited edition of 1000 DVDs on LINE as Colorfield Variations (LINE_038)

37PK [ Haarlem, The Netherlands ] August 4-28, 2011
Parnassos Concert Hall, Hertz Festival [ Athens Greece ] January 28-29, 2011
La Casa Encendida [ Madrid, ES ] May-June, 2010
University of Kentucky [ Lexington, KY, US ] March 10, 2010
CTM: In Between Categories [ Berlin, DE ] Nov 22, 2009
Visual Sounds-Musik Intermedial
/Soundtrack_Cologne 6.0. [ Koln, DE ] Nov 17, 2009
LIFEM: London International Festival of Exploratory Music [ London, UK ] Nov 4-7, 2009
Dis-patch Festival [ Belgrade, Serbia ] Oct 23-Nov 8, 2009
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart [ Stuttgart, DE ] Sept 3, 2009
44th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival [ Prague, Czech Republic ] July 3-11, 2009
Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporàneo/Territorios Digitales [ Seville, ES ] May 22-June 6, 2009
Plateaux Festival [ Torun, Poland ] Nov 7-9, 2008
Hammer Museum [ Los Angeles, USA ] Sept 24, 2008
Cimatics Festival [ Brussels, Belgium ] Nov 22-24, 2007
LAPTOPIA #4 FESTIVAL [ Tel Aviv, Israel ] November 21, 2007
Henry Art Gallery/Decibel Festival[ Seattle, WA ] Sept 20, 2007
Laplandia/Issue Project Room [ Brooklyn, NY ] Sawako, T.Deupree, R.Chartier. Sept 8, 2007
G Fine Art [ Washington, DC ] April 27-May 27, 2007
Ellipse Art Center [ Washington, DC ] April 27-May 27, 2007
Corcoran Gallery of Art [ Washington, DC ] w/Sawako, Ernest Edmonds + Mark Fell. April 25, 2007

The COLORFIELD VARIATIONS program, curated by renowned sound artist Richard Chartier, is a collection of audio/visual works reinterpreting the Color Field movement by an international array of critically acclaimed sound and new media artists including: Frank Bretschneider, Alan Callander, Chris Carter + Cosey Fanni Tutti (Chris & Cosey/Throbbing Gristle), Sue Costabile, Evelina Domnitch + Dmitry Gelfand, Mark Fell (SND/Blir) + Ernest Edmonds, Tina Frank + General Magic, Ryoichi Kurokawa, Stephan Mathieu, Steve Roden, and Bas Van Koolwijk. Colorfield Variation includes new works especially created for this program.

Color Field painting, an abstract style that emerged in the 1950s following Abstract Expressionism, is characterized by canvases painted primarily with stripes, washes and fields of solid color. The first serious and critically acclaimed art movement to originate in the nation's capital, Washington Color School was central to the larger Color Field movement. As a reaction to the emotional energy and gestural surface of Abstract Expressionists, the Color Field artists and members of The Washington Color School turned away from the individual mark in favor of color itself becoming the content of the work. Breaking painting down to the fundamental formal elements, the Color Field artists created pure simplified, large-format, color-dominated fields on a large monumental scale.

During the early sixties, Color Field painting was the term used to describe younger artists whose work were related to second generation abstract expressionism yet clearly pointed toward a new direction in American painting. Artists such as Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Helen Frankenthaler, Leon Berkowitz, Frank Stella and others eliminated recognizable imagery from their canvas and presented abstraction as an end in itself with each painting as one unified, cohesive, monolithic image.

Think of Barnett Newman’s painting "Who's afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue?" with its almost physical effect.

This program in its original form was created for Washington Project for the Arts as part of the city wide ColorField.Remix events which took place in April-June 2007 at the WPA Experimental Media Series at Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

STEVE RODEN (US) dark over light earth / 13:00
ALAN CALLANDER (US) cf01 / 04:52 
FRANK BRETSCHNEIDER (DE) looping i-vi (excerpt) / 12:00
STEPHAN MATHIEU (DE) orange was the color of her dress / 10:00 
SUE COSTABILE (US) BEEQUEEN (NL) amp_swell / 03:49
TEZ (IT) CF #1-2n / 05:10
CHRIS CARTER + COSEY FANNI TUTTI (UK) Chronomanic Redux / 10:00
RYOICHI KUROKAWA (JP) Scorch / 03:04
SAWAKO (JP) flirting 07121602 / 03:15
E.DOMNITCH + D.GELFAND (RU/US) 10,000 Peacock Feathers in Foaming Acid / 08:00
ERNEST EDMONDS (AU) + MARK FELL (UK) Broadway One (excerpt) / 02:00


The Color Field movement, defined by abstract canvases featuring broad fields of solid color, flourished in the post-war era of the 1940s and ’50s. Inspired by European modernism and closely mirroring the works of artists like Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, and Barnett Newman, the Color Field movement was born when artists began to break away from the gesture and angst of abstract expressionism, opting instead to examine the subtleties of clear surfaces and pure color.

Fast-forward about 50 years to a new DVD released by minimalist label Line. The limited-to-1000Colorfield Variations takes Color Field’s central ideas and reinterprets them with stunning audio-visual mood pieces created by a host of critically acclaimed artists from all across the globe. Wonderfully assembled by curator and sound artist Richard Chartier, the DVD is an excellent way for viewers to absorb the Color Field movement from all spectrums—from the warm and milky deluge of vibrant oranges and reds bleeding into one another in Steve Roden's 13-minute "Dark Over Light Earth" to the three-dimensional world of skittering neon blocks in Tina Frank and General Magic’s "Chronomops."

The music accompanying each of the pieces comes from a wide array of experimental sounds, from drone and ambient to the clicks, gurgles, and pops of borderline-IDM. Ryoichi Kurokawa’s masterpiece “Scorch” blends blurred, origami-like geometry in pinks, pastels, and carnation colors to a fuzzy, ambient soundscape. Crinkly shapes multiply like bacteria on a microscope lens, crunching and fizzling as new transparent bodies dissolve and reappear over them. "Chronomanic Redux," by Throbbing Gristle members Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti, is another beauty, both aurally and visually. During the piece, a giant block of rich red inches down the screen to what sounds like an orchestra conducted by ghosts. As more classical-sounding instrumentation makes its way into the thick blanket of drone and whir, the red block becomes textured and flows like debris slithering across an ocean floor.

In college, I used to enjoy sitting in my dorm room on acid, staring at a blue TV screen while Roni Size or the Pi soundtrack boomed in the background. Colorfield Variations reminds me of those days, as it’s a great (non-narcotic) way to get lost in beautiful sights and sounds.


As is typically the case with Line productions, Colorfield Variations is an exquisitely packaged release, in this case an audio-visual DVD project curated by Line main man Richard Chartier that features the work of upper-tier experimental electronic music names—Steve Roden, Stephan Mathieu, Frank Bretschneider, and Sawako among them. The contributors either provide their own video accompaniment or used the works of artists associated with the Colour Field painting tradition such as Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Morris Louis, Helen Frankenthaler, and others (with its emphasis on stripes, washes, and fields of solid color, the movement developed as a reaction to the more energetic and gestural style of Abstract Expressionism). If you're thinking that the style seems a natural fit for Line aesthetic, it goes without saying that you're correct.

What one gets is a synaesthetic experience that's tantamount to bringing the gallery exhibition into one's home, a set ideal for sitting back with the lights off, a big-screen monitor large enough to do the videos justice, and a surround-sound system powerful enough to distribute the micro-sounds around the room. There are thirteen pieces in all, with four exceeding the ten-minute mark alongside shorter settings, and naturally the visual and sonic materials coincide with flickers in the one mirrored by flickers in the other. The background info in some cases proves as fascinating as the work itself. "dark over light earth" by Steve Roden, for example, was designed to act as a smaller ninth painting to show alongside eight Rothko paintings at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. Roden used the colours in those eight paintings to generate a score for his own electronics and harmonium parts, while Jacob Danzinger played violin, unrehearsed, while listening on headphones to Morton Feldman's Rothko Chapel. The final work is much like a mutating Rothko painting, with colours shifting from gold and copper to red and blue-grey, often monochrome fields of varying saturation levels and changing light intensities, and sometimes speckled like magnified dust motes accumulating on glass. Sonically the piece is a slowly-shifting and generally peaceful field of electro-acoustic sound with the natural pluck and saw of the violin and harmonium positioned at the forefront. Frank Bretschneider's "looping i-vi" is pretty much what you'd expect from the Raster-Noton mainstay: pristine, low-level clicks'n'cuts-styled music paired with light and dark horizontals rising and falling against a blue screen. Stephan Mathieu's " Orange was the color of her dress" flickers rapidly through flat colour fields, the audio track a beautiful, crystalline sampling of Mathieu's Radioland. "Chronomanic Redux" by Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti pairs Rothko-like fields of red, blue, and green with placid ambient sounds of prog-like flute playing and softly blowing winds. Sawako opts for micro-sound gestures and mutating pastel shapes in her "Flirting 07121602," which is based on color data from Helen Frankenthaler's painting, "Flirt."

Interestingly, some of the most successful pieces happen to be the shortest. "AMP_SWELL," which pairs video by Sue Costabile and audio by Beequeen, offers an abrupt change from the monochrome treatments that elsewhere dominate. Fluttering images of grid-like patterns fade in and out of the black base while guitar fragments, clinking noises, and electronics mingle in an animated and extroverted style that's pleasingly more conventionally song-like in form. The pairing of translucent clusters of beautiful flower-like shapes (pinks, reds, greys) with violent tearing and smeared sounds leaves a memorable impression in Ryoichi Kurokawa's "Scorch," while "Chronomops," with video by Tina Frank and audio by General Magic, is refreshingly frenetic in its aggressive coupling of wild sonics and dizzying colour; like a typhoon of raw digital noise and visual overload, the two-minute comes and goes quickly, flaring out like a dying flame. There are a few occasions where one dimension trumps another. "Ten Thousand Peacock Feathers in Foaming Acid" by Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfland, for instance, looks beautiful, and so it should: its flowing, green tendrils and shapes are actually the surfaces of nucleating and dissipating soap bubble clusters; sonically, however, the music accompanying it is a less striking mix of sub-atomic ripples, tears, and tones. Generally speaking, though, most of the featured works are symbiotic meldings of sound and vision, and Colorfield Variations is as magnificently designed as one would expect, given its Line origins.


Richard Chartier is the curator of an exhibition of video and sound works under the guise ofColorfield Variations, which is perhaps best described as 'one color in many variations', and which dates back to the 1950s when people started to worked with stripes, washes and fields of one color. Excellent work to translate to moving images and sound. This DVD is the result of that exhibition and is, perhaps, best viewed on a big screen and when seated in the dark. Both of which didn't occur when I watched it, simply because I don't have a cinema at home. If you hope some narrative, video clip type of stuff, then this is the wrong place. If you want some abstract images, sometimes with a few colors and lines, then this is the right place. Each of the artists fill in the notion of colorfield in their own way. The flickering colors of Stephan Mathieu is something entirely different than the strict lines of Frank Bretschneider, whose music runs synchrony with the images. And both of which has nothing to do with the photograph and translucent materials of Sue Costabile. Some works are connected through approach like Tina Frank/General Magic and Bas van Koolwijk's bumping images and noise approach to music. They also break with the usual music that Line presents, but that is well taken for in other places here, such as Mathieu, Chris Carter & Cosey or Steve Roden (these three alone are good for thirty minutes of music). Chartier has done a great job in selecting these images which show a wide range of approaches to the ideas of colorfield, both in music and in sound.
(Vital Weekly, NL)


Curated by Richard Chartier, this magnificent audio-visual project draws on a formidable roster of artists operating in the field of experimental electronic music, featuring the likes of Steve Roden, Stephan Mathieu, Frank Bretschneider, Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti either contributing their own video accompaniment or working with visual artists within the tradition of Colour Field painting. An offshoot from the Abstract Expressionist movement in the 1950s, Color Field art was preoccupied with the communicative power of pure chromatics, an elemental approach that has a definite resonance with the sort of output you'd associate with the Line imprint. Steve Roden gets the compilation underway with a beautiful composition for violins, all meticulously and spaciously multitracked within an elegant electroacoustic configuration. In terms of its electronic content, the processing is all very transparent, carefully framing and editing the string parts without destroying the instruments' timbral identity. Subtle chromatic shifts take place over the thirteen-minute duration, all very much in keeping with the rather analogue, natural feel of the music. Next comes Alan Callander's 'CF01', a more ambiguous, ambient piece with a visual counterpart that suggests an animated Mark Rothko painting. Frank Bretschneider's 'Looping i-vi (excerpt)' is typically fluent excursion into digital miniamalism, joining horizontal linear animations with ear-tickling high frequency flickers. After ten minutes of typically brilliant drone work (and rapidly flickering colour changes) from Stephan Mathieu, the DVD begins to make moves towards the more in-your-face, visceral end of the audio-visual spectra. Mego stalwarts Tina Frank & General Magic conjure up two blissful minutes of intelligent, joyful digital chaos while Bas Van Koolwuk presents a bombardment of juddering signal modulations in conjunction with monochromatic screen interference. Ryoichi Kurokawa comes the closest to ondotzero territoy with his florid and kaleidoscopic mixed media outing, 'Scorch', but the soundtrack is very much in the vein of 12k and Spekk in terms of its beguiling granular synthesis and gauzy warmth. Also worthy of note is Sawako's contribution, whose high frequency sonorities are perhaps more in line with Sachiko M's steady-handed minimalism than the artist's own output. The two closing pieces are similarly rooted in minutiae: the collaborations between Evelina Domnitch + Dmitry Gelfland and Ernest Edmonds + Mark Fell both experiment with involving nano-sonics while keeping to the elemental color-sculpting brief. Another amazing DVD release from the line camp - very highly recommended indeed.
(boomkat, UK)


Acknowledging some of this movement’s roots in his home city of Washington, Chartier invited a selection of sound and multi-media artists to submit works based upon a re-intepretation of "colour field", or "chromatic abstraction" for an installation and performance series at the Corcoran Gallery for Art in Washington. It is now documented in part, in this most recent 12k release. Assembling and recording any works by a group of artists is no easy feat, and this collection is epic in both its scale, and breadth of approach from all its participants. I will not detain you with in depth summaries of each and every piece, as the DVD is generally one of the most successful I’ve seen in terms of content and presentation, eclipsing the works of UK based ONEDOTZERO, who made their reputation on presenting just this type of experiment. I will pick up on what for me are the highs and lows of the collection, and reserve final judgement for you, the audience.

Colourfield Variations opens with a breath of anticipation from Steve Roden, friend and collaborator of the 12k imprint, whose "Dark Over Light Earth" takes its cues from dissolving colour swatches taken from paintings by Mark Rothko, and a soundtrack inspired by a piece from Morton Feldman’s "Rothko Chapel. " "Dark Over Light Earth" makes graded transitions from one colour tone to another, but appears to lack the depth and resolution of a painting to truly carry this off, and in any way stimulate the emotional response that the original paintings would. The Tina Frank/General Magic piece, "Chronomops" is the definitive high point of the collection, alongside Evelina Dominitch and Dmitry Gelfand’s "Ten Thousand Peacock Feathers in Foaming Acid." The former using a scintillating explosion of dancing colour bands with a backdrop of abstracted digital soundscaping provided by General Magic. Tina Frank’s pedigree as a designer is notable, and this video excursion is truly remarkable, if a little short..Dominitch and Gelfand, having been the first to release on 12k DVD have submitted a truly awe-inspiring version of moving colour field, using the shadows cast by a laser light shining through soap bubbles..from this disarmingly simple premise, the duo have come up with a piece that was jaw-dropping to encounter, as the eerie green light cast by the laser, washes through the loops and whorls of soap bubbles, that could almost resemble the storm-tossed surface of some indescribably hostile planet, yet maintains a subtle elegance and gentility, interfaced with a lower case tonal soundtrack that acts as the perfect backdrop. Despite the kudos and significance of most of these artists, it is difficult to separate wheat from chaff..Sawako submits a beautiful rendering of sketch-like filaments from Helen Frankenthaler’s "Flirt", and Ryoichi Kurokawa’s "Scorch", is the perfect meeting of sound and image, the colours here perhaps more muted, and a little busier than most of the entries..but highly successful nevertheless. Frank Bretschneider does what he and the raster-noton stable do best, by juxtaposing his twitchy, effervescent glitch-techno loops, with a series of banded colours moving from top to bottom of the screen. This is a moving image fest of grand proportions, that could equally be treated as wallpaper, or in the case of Tina Frank, and Dominitch and Gelfand, be encountered as ground-breaking multmedia art. Colour Field imagery has come of age. This has my highest possible recommendation.
(whiteline, UK)


Con Richard Cartier creó LINE, subsello desde el que compilan un buen número de piezas videoartísticas que tienen como fin recuperar las nociones estéticas y conceptuales del movimiento Colour Field, resultado ulterior al expresionismo abstracto, y la fuerza expresiva de las variaciones y alteraciones cromáticas. En una ediciún de mil copias se reúnen obras de F. Bretschneider, Stephan Mathieu, Ryochi Kurokawa, entre otros, donde la experimentación electrónica se funde a las posibilidades de los nuevos medios sublimando la expectación de cualquiera que se exponga a su visionado.


Voy a confesar, antes de seguir escribiendo, que a mi siempre me ha puesto mucho expresionismo abstracto: las grandes manchas de color de Rothko, que parecen salirse de los lienzos, los cuadros (casi) neutros de Barnett Newman, que adelantaban el minimalismo, las lúgubres variaciones sobre negro de Ad Reinhardt; son cosas que consiguen emocionarme como pocas corrientes en la pintura. Asi que tal vez no sea muy objectivo si les recomiendo (encarecidamnte, además) este Colorfield Variations, una coleccción de trabajos audiovisuales, seleccionada por Richard Chartier, en la que artistas como Frank Bretschneider, Stephan Mathieu, Tina Frank, Steve Roden o Chris & Cosey, ofrecen su particular interpretación de aquel movimiento. Piezas que en la mayoria de los casos son minimalistas hasta la asfixia (hay excepciones, como la fantástica danza de formas que realiza Tina Frank), pero también hipnóticas y brillantes. El que sea seguidor del estilo va a disfrutar como un cochino revolcándose en el barro.
(GoMag, ES)


Diese DVD dokumentiert eine von Richard Chartier kuratierte Ausstellung, die sich mit der musikalischen und videobasierten Umsetzung von Farbfeldmalerei beschäftigt, einer Richtung der Malerei in Amerika der 50er Jahre. Die Bewegung zeichnete sich damals durch großflächige homogene Farbfelder aus, die hauptsächlich durch reine Farben wirken. Ihre bekanntesten Vertreter sind Mark Rothko und Barnett Newman. Die misikalische Umsetzung ist wie ihre Videos äußerst minimal gehalten, die Ergebnisse sind aber oft grundverschieden. Ambiente und flächige Musik trifft auf langsam morphende und bildschirmfällende Farbflächen, Algorhythmen beeinflussen bewegte Bilder und Täne, Laster tasten Seifenblasen ab, und Streifenmuster bewegen sich synchron zu sparsamen digitalen Klängen. Ein wirklich spannendes Projekt. Wer kann, sollte sich das Ganze mit einem Beamer und einer möglichst großen Leinwand samt Kopfhören zu Gemüte führen. Beteiligt sind unter anderem Frank Bretschneider, Beequeen, Stephan Mathieu sowie Chris Carter & Cosey Fanni Tutti.
(De:Bug, DE)


Se l'interesse di Taylor Deupree per l'immagine come elemento non accessorio, ma pienamente integrato rispetto ai lavori del catalogo 12k, si era finora manifesto attraverso la cura maniacale del design e la fotografia degli artwork, con Colorfield Variations, che seque di poco l'uscita in dvd di Attack on Silence ad opera di Mark Fell, esso si carica di elemento nuovi e programmatici nella scelta di temi che preludono ad ulteriori approfondimenti futuri. Per l'occasione e Richard Chartier a guidare un progetto che coinvolge diciotto artisti e che ha come campo d'indagine la ricerca astratta messa in essere all fine degli anni sessante da un gruppo di artisti (Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, Kenneth Noland, Barnet Newman), la cui opera viene associata ad una sensibilita minimalista ante-litteram, nella tensione verso la riduzione degli elementi che contraggono e condensano le superfici in campi o bande di colori. L'astrazione cromatica rappresenta dunque il tema d'indagine per questi manipolatori elettronici, invitati da Chartier a realizzare dei lavori per una installazione e per una serie di performance alla Corcoran Gallery of Art di Washington, in parte oggetti di documenazione all'interno del dvd. Il nucleo do gravitazione concettuale e forissimo e sono davvero transcurabili gli episodi accessori nell'ottica complessiva del progetto. L'inizio e un naufragio sensoriale sull'onda delle lente tranzioni tonali di "Dark Over Light Earth" (di Steve Roden), inspirato al Feldman di "Rothko Chapel"; Frank Bretschneider contribuisce alla causa in piene continuita con lo stile Raster-Noton, offrendo in mescolanza sincronica bande di colori in scorrimento dall'alto al basso (sembra di assistere ad una versione digitale di "telefunken" di Carsten Nicolai); Sawako ("flirting 07121602) agguimge un bozzetto filamentoso popolato da figure sintectiche irreali e transperenze mediate; in "scorch" (Ryoichi Kurokawa), lo spttro esplode in una serie di architetture generative di plani di dati che si intersecano al suono sdoppiandosi di continuo, mentre Tina Frank e General Magic ("Chronomops") animano una superficie sfarfallante di onde cronomatiche sfasate e soundscape digitale in una potente sinergia di traietorie visuali ed aurali. Ma tanti altri sono gli episodi relevanti, nel fluire di tredici dipinti digitali in movimento, in cui l'intricato melange di forma, superficie e suono esprime fino in fondo la potenza psicologica del combinazioni scandagliate.
(Blow Up, IT)


Tra gli anni 40 e i 50 del secolo scorso, a New York, emerse un nuovo movimento artistico chiamato Colour Field (per i patrioti Pittura a Campi di Colore), ispirato ai movimenti europei dell'Espressionismo astratto e del suprematismo. Detto sbrigativamente per non dilungarsi troppo in un territorio di enorme estensione, si trattava di utilizzare il colore in campiture su grandi tele di canapa, i lavori di Mark Rothko e Trevor Bell ne sono un esempio. Lo scorso anno Richard Chartier e Taylor Dupree con la loro LINE/12K, l'etichetta simbolo di certa elettronica sperimentale-oltre-il-minimale, hanno ricevuto una fortunata commissione dal Washington Project of the Arts che ha fatto realizzare una serie di eventi ispirati e dedicati a questo movimento tra il 2007 e il 2008.

Ecco quindi un DVD che raccoglie gli interventi realizzati da una pletora di autori ben noti, che si sono lasciati pervadere dall'eredità di questo movimento, comunemente considerato il precursore di quello che un decennio dopo è stato il piccolo grande tsunami del minimalismo, tuttora protagonista nella produzione di musica elettronica contemporanea di ogni sorta e risma.

La prima traccia è di Steve Roden, 'Dark over light earth', vuole essere un piccolo quadro del genere Color Field, ed utilizza harmonium e violino, molto di già sentito e le immagini sembrano voler mettere alla prova la qualità dello schermo LCD, in stile bravia. Frank Bretshneider ha proposto un lavoro del 2004, dove il video accompagnava la performance audio del musicista ed è molto astratto, al limite del provocatorio visto che propone un'immagine che balla come in una tv con il tubo catodico che perde colpi; stessa cosa per la traccia di Richard Chartier, che cura la raccolta e lascia un segno di ortodossia. Allan Callander si ispira a Rothko e accompagna immagini che non aggiungono nulla di più a quanto detto 70 anni fa ad un paesaggio di suoni in stile navicella spaziale: blocchi di colore che si intrecciano come in un carosello d'altri tempi. La mia preferita della raccolta, la musica di Stephan Mathieu è una sequenza eccezionale dove i timbri si intrecciano come fasci di luce colorata, pare esprimere in profondità l'intento di questo esperimento, andando oltre al semplice esercizio di stile. Si intitola 'Orange was the colour of her dress' ed è una versione di 'Michael' già uscita per Die Schachtel. Splendide le immagini che accompagnano la traccia di Sue Constable e Beequeen, close-up sulla pelle squamata di un rettile meccanico. I suoni sono generati dalle animazioni di queste specie di tessuti montati insieme perchè prendano vita e gli algoritmi utilizzati sono azzeccatissimi.

Il limite della raccolta si vede nei capitoli del DVD di Tez e Tina Frank + General Magic. Sono le registrazioni di installazioni live tenute in passato. Come assistere ad un progetto multimediale guardando un DVD. Non ha senso e ci si sente un po' presi in giro, visto che le immagini sembrano prove di trasmissione su aggeggi malfunzionanti. In questo senso, se la raccolta voleva essere un archivio di quanto realizzato dal WPADC, non ha senso attribuirle la dignità di un lavoro non dico tanto da fruire passivamente ma quanto meno da ricevere come una forma di racconto. Più tranquilli gli interventi di Chris Carter, Cosey Fan Tutti e Sawako, che lavorano sull'animazione astratta in digitale con un bel risultato finale. Bas Van Koolwijk risolleva le sorti del DVD in maniera grandiosa con una traccia delicata e soave, un flusso di suoni amalgamati con un bel lavoro sui timbri e tanta ironia nell'inserire campanellini e altre amenità da ninna nanna.

Nel complesso, un lavoro singifcativo che lascia una prospettiva interessante sulla scena newyorkese (molte installazioni sono collegate tra loro e gli artisti collaborano sinergicamente col territorio) e sulle strade che possono essere percorse con i mezzi della sintesi e dell'elettroacustica quando combinati con altri media.
(Basebog, IT)


A translation of the Color Field painters movement of the 1950´s and 60´s to the 21st Century. It´s a daunting move. But it turned out to work surprisingly well. Let's make it easy on ourselves, and start with a wikipedia definition of the term 'color field' movement: "Color Field painting is a style of abstract painting that emerged in New York City during the 1940s and 1950s. Inspired by European modernism and closely related to Abstract Expressionism with many of its important early proponents being among the pioneering Abstract Expressionists. Color Field painting is characterized primarily by large fields of flat, solid color, spread across or stained into the canvas; creating areas of unbroken surface and a flat picture plane. With less emphasis placed on gesture, brushstrokes and action and more emphasis placed on overall consistency of form and process." Barnett Newman is one of the most welknown of the movement, but actually none of his confreres are using the same flat, mathematical slabs of paint. Mark Rothko for instance uses more diffused stretches on his canvases and the early paintings of Clyfford Stil look like ripped parts of wallpaper. So there are quite different forms of expression within this movement. There is common ground, though; it's all abstract and to do with area's of color on a stretch of canvas.

Which is what we see here, as well. This DVD is all about abstract sound, and the images that are shown as an addition to the sound (or is it the other way around?) are that as well. The screen is the canvas and on it stretches of colored fields are moving, or standing still, or slowly moving out of focus images which cannot be retraced to any kind of origin. I was a bit skeptic at first, I must admit. I don't know why actually. Perhaps it had to do with the idea that a good composer doesn't make anyone automatically also a good visual artist. And no, not every track is good. But most of them are. And as a collection it is quite well done. Some artists work in black/white/grey (like Bas van Koolwijk), others use 3D abstract material (probably constructed with Max or VVVV, like Ryoichi Kurokawa). Chris and Cosey use abstract still which they slowly blend. It's all interesting material. Well done, Richard Chartier, curator of this project!
(Earlabs, NL)


Style apparuaux Etats-Unis dans les années 50 autour, entre autres, de Barnett Newman ou Mark Rothko comme une réaction aux excès de l’expressionnisme abstrait, le Color Field s caractérise par de vastes aplats colorés, le toiles s’organisant autour de peu d’éléments (bandes, rectangles), plus ou moins fondus dans une intense vibration lumineuse. Peinture aussi émotion-nellement riche que plastiquement dépouillé, le Color Field apparaît comme un piège dès lors qu’il s’agit d’en transposer les techniques á l’art vidéo, l’image informatique étant nettement moins nuancée que sa contrepartie plastique. C’est pourtant le défi relevé par Richard Chartier, qui compose pour son label LINE une compilation en DVD de variations autour du Color Field par des musiciens et plasticiens radicaux. Evidemment, avec un tel objectif, le pari ne peut qu’être á moitié rempli, et si l’essentiel des morceaux proposés s’avàre vraiment réussi, c’est du point de vue visuel que certains échouent á approcher l’essence du Color Field, comme Beequeen associé à la vidéaste Sue Costabile, ou General Magic et Tina Frank, qui en tentant de plier le Color Field á leur univers échouent au final sur les deux tableaux. D’autres en revanche, réalisent un sans-faute (mais ce n’est guère étonnant qu’il s’agisse d’artistes poursuivant par ailleurs des œuvres plastiques), comme Chris Carter et Cosey Fanni Tutti (Throbbing Gristle) ou Steve Roden, qui nous offrent de somptueses variations chromatiques et minimales. Quant aux autres, de Stephan Mathieu à Frank Bretschneider, Ryoichi Kurokawa ou Sawako, ils ne déméritent pas, même si leurs tableaux en mouvment s’averent moins palpitants, ceci étant en grande partie dû – un reproche qui s’applique même ici aux réussites – á un rapport au temps qui fait qu’une vidéo a un temps fini, alors qu’un tableau est par essence infini.
(DList, FR)


In the late 60s a group of artists moved to expunge the figurative image from their art. Hung up on chromatic abstraction - a reduction of elements to intense fields or bands of colour, the Color Field movement, with Rothko its best known exponent, purveyed a parade of images of pure colour; devoid of obvious signifiers, these became powerful emotion-fields. Its proto-Minimalism bespeaks a sparse elementalism whose aesthetic is spiritual kin of 12k and its more questing cousin, Line, the source of this recording documenting an installation curated by microsound maven, Richard Chartier, featuring a roll-call of artists in microsound and experimental electronics, each contributing their own accompanying video or working with visual artists in the Color Field tradition.

Highlights come from a trio of usual post-digital suspects: Steve Roden, Frank Bretschneider, and Stephan Mathieu. Roden's "Dark over light earth" sets the tone, modelling a morphing Rothko, further fuelled by a part of Morton Feldman's "Rothko Chapel." A electro-acoustic setting frames and edits the pluck and bow of violin and cello, with a harmonium foregrounded, making for an elegant languorous soundfield. Visuals come in shifting multi-colours, and monochrome fields of varying saturation and light intensities, becoming bespeckled like magnified dust motes. Raster Noton's Dr Rhythm, Frank Bretschneider, re-presents part of an older piece, his "Looping i-vi (excerpt)" a trademark trip of ear-drum buzz clicks and flicks of dark horizontals undulating against a blue screen. Stephan Mathieu's beguiling "Orange was the color of her dress" features an early sampling of part of his Radioland ("Michael"), a peerless work of processed shortwave radio signals setting silken drones against flickering colour fields. Further worthwhile inclusions follow. Ryoichi Kurokawa's "Scorch" is an ornate mixed media outing, abstractly representing images of the eponymous act with a granular synthesis of violent tearing and a warm smearage of field recordings in the digital-organic hybrid style of and/OAR and Spekk. "Flirting 07121602" features video and audio by Sawako, choreographing mutating pastel forms with steely high frequency sonorities in a more challenging than customary lowercase microsonic mode.

Interspersing proceedings are others: Alan Callander's "CF01," a more ambiguous, ambient piece exploring audio-analogues of the basic shapes and colour palettes in Rothko's fields; Tez's "CF #1 - 2n" uses software developed by the artist to create protean video-paintings that blend two strata of algorithmic colour gradients with photo maps that respond in real-time to dual-channel audio-constructions. Bas Van Koolwuk 's "FDBCK/AV - Silver" conjoins a modulating signal squall with monochromatic screen interference, also produced with specially developed software. There are less immediately engaging outings from a few long-time lurkers on the edges of experimental electronics. Like Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti's "Chronomanic Redux," which has an ill flute wind blowing queasy prog-isms over its fields of red, blue and green. And one-time Mego maniacs, General Magic, who soundtrack Tina Frank's visual frenesy of rotating cubes and scintillae of vertical colour bars with unforgiving caustic blasts of digital detritus. More intriguing is Beequeen's "AMP_SWELL," accompanied with a handmade video by Sue Costabile, all a-swim with evanescent monochrome photograms of fabrics, textured papers, and watercolours on tracing paper, audio-framed with a soup of guitar shards and chewy electronics. Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfland's "Ten Thousand Peacock Feathers in Foaming Acid" deploys laser light to scan the surfaces of nucleating and dissipating soap bubble clusters to form eeriely green tendrils and shapes on a suppurating surface, complemented by a sub-atomic soundtrack of ripples, tears, and tones. Finally, Ernest Edmonds + Mark Fell (of SND) get down and nano-sonic while discharging the elemental colour-sculpting brief; their "Broadway One (excerpt)" examines pure colour, tone, and the harmonic relationships between these elements within their generative systems.

Overall, Colorfield Variations is inhabited by symbiotic meldings of sound and vision, designed in line with Line's fine pedigree.


In 2007, Washington Project for the Arts invited renowned sound artist Richard Chartier to curate a program of contemporary audio visual work celebrating the Color Field movement. Evolved out of abstract expressionism, this East Coast scene of the mid-Twentieth century deliberately avoided symbolism; instead it enveloped the senses with limited yet psychologically powerful tools of pure colour and texture. Colorfield Variations collects six works commissioned for the event on DVD, forging clear links between the birth of minimalism and today’s digital installations.

Such links are most apparent in both the preparation and execution of the opening piece, 'Dark Over Light Earth', an excerpt from Steve Roden's work based on eight paintings by Mark Rothko. It was formed through a combination of conceptual and indeterminate processes rooted in the experiments in composition that were emerging at the same time (and place) as abstract expressionism. In fact, Roden gave one such composition - Morton Feldman's Rothko Chapel, also inspired by Rothko - to violinist Jacob Danzinger to improvise over without rehearsal. Separately, Roden created a score based on the colours in the paintings which he then played on harmonium and later combined with Danzinger's single take. For the visual accompaniment, the score of colours was used again, this time manifested through house paint swatches from the 1940s. The results of all this post-modern alchemy emphasises the more spiritual side of Rothko's otherwise pure abstraction while joining him in avoiding the figurative (as did Feldman's original piece). The violin divides its attention between tenderly plucked droplets and long streams that gently unfurl to cast calm, meditative tones over the brief but regular rhythmic bubbles of harmonium, accompanied by pale reds and light browns gently dissolving into each other on screen. Unlike some of the computer-generated contributions, each colour that fills the screen is never uniform – some have a shadow at the edge, others are faintly speckled with dust - adding a real, physical texture similar to those yielded through a closer inspection of Rothko’s canvases.

Rothko also forms the backbone to Alan Callander’s 'CF01', whose colour palette is meticulously derived from the painter’s work and displayed on blocks that smoothly slide through each other, striking many varied degrees of contrast on their way. The movement accelerates creating a fluttering accompaniment to gently wavering sine tones that glide synchronously as their harmonics form natural pulses interrupted by the occasional crystal chink.

A similar but more rapid approach is given to 'Orange was the color of her dress' by Stephan Mathieu, who displays his choice of colours full screen creating an intense flickering effect that only subsides when darker shades meet towards the end. The soundtrack is a rich orchestral drone drawn from processed shortwave radio signals that take on the qualities of bowed glass. Its swirling layers emerge as a majestic yet serene procession in stark contrast to Mathieu’s stroboscopic rainbow, leaving ambivalence in its wake.

The sonar blips and digital breeze conjured by Tez (Maurizio Martinucci) on 'CF #1~2n' are completely in step with its shadowy waveforms plotted on screen. This showcases how his generative software is programmed to react in real-time to audio, bringing a new technological dimension to last century's abstractions. But the murky shapes and contrasts achieved by these digital processes remain cold and alien, lacking the human translations afforded by the colourful language of the Color Field movement.

Conversely, 'Chronomanic Redux's is an affecting, emotive achievement wholly aligned with color field abstraction yet also evoking ancient ceremony through modern digital experimentation. Here, Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti take a solemn, contemplative journey back to the sounds and images from 1994's Library of Sound Edition 2 which was concerned with the focussed power on specific dates of specific festivals. This triumphant ritual uses deep hues embedded with organic, shadowy grains, which eventually become constantly moving lattices of layered colour. The visuals are expertly blended with immersive, tranquilising sounds of cavernous atmospherics and icy chimes to truly spellbinding effect.

The final piece offered here specifically created for Colorfield Variations, 'Flirting 07121602' by Sawako, takes color data from a painting by Helen Frankenthaler to plot sketchy, digital shapes that shuffle about the centre of the screen leaving jagged trails in their wake while a high pitched tone, just within the limits of hearing, shimmers until a lower shortwave signal vibrates gently in its path. Like Tez's earlier contribution, the explicit computerizations of the video is alienating, requiring sight of the original painting to better understand its nature.

The disk also features seven pre-existing pieces chosen by Chartier that complement the program to varying degrees: Frank Bretschneider achieves a cool hybrid of color field and glitchy oscilloscopic animation, while Tina Franks' dizzying geometrical jam with General Magic is like being inside a fairground ride based on the work of Gene Davis. Most extraordinary (and possibly the most remote from color field principles) is Evelina Domnitch and Dimitry Gelfand's 'Ten Thousand Peacock Feathers in Foaming Acid' which reveals the graceful, microscopic dance of soap bubble molecules under laser light.

While home viewing is not able to match the scale that the work of the Color Field movement often relied upon, the DVD makes available a diverse and highly stimulating array of contemporary international audio visual work that is otherwise confined to city galleries scattered across the globe. By shining a new light on a radical chapter of art history, Colorfield Variations also illuminates today's often opaque sound art, adding a new dimension to our understanding and appreciation of its abstract experimentation.


Quello che accade In Colorfield Variations è il nascere in audio e video di un intenso ed intimo rapporto tra artista e opera.

Una schiera di diciotto sound-artist chiamati da Richard Chartier (LINE) intrattengono un simposio virtuale a suon di musica e immagini sul movimento pittorico Color Field, nato tra 1940-1950 a New York (ne hanno fatto parte Mark Rothko, Kenneth Noland, Bernett Newman per citarne alcuni), movimento ispirato all'espressionismo astratto e al suprematismo.

Non vi è nulla di casuale in questi tredici episodi liberati da puri fini estetici, fortemente affini alla plasticità, tra superfici piatte e astrattismo in colore cheSteve Roden (Dark Over Light Earth) sperimenta in violino e harmonium intorno a punteggiature elettroacustiche, lavorate in sequenze con poche ma intense cromie sulle quali si appoggiano suoni e sfumature dalle tonalità più calde.

Elettroacusitca che Alan Callander (CF01), ispirandosi alle campiture di Rothko, compone su tela legandole da naturali scorci in sequenza o che Frank Bretschneider (Looping i-vi) estende ai toni più freddi con elettronica di segnale immolata tra loop, bozzetti ritmici e monitoraggi in scanner.

E ancora, i paesaggi cromatici di Stephan Mathieu (Orange Was the Color of her dress), composti con fluidità sintetiche, la timbrica di Tez, tra analisi in spettro da imprimere sul silenzio, o in bianco e nero e in continuo segnale per Bas Van Koolwijk.

Si liberano delle superfici Chris Carter e Cosey Fanni Tutti, sorpresi in pieno astrattismo i loro lungometraggi ambient devoti all'arte esposta, mentre con il capitolo Ryoichi Kurokawa e Sawako si lavora sulla scrittura, di un immacolato fondale tra pennellate istintive e gestuali più prossime all'action painting.

In chiusura Mark Fell ed Ernest Edmonds, più vicino alla recente uscita Attack on Silence tra schemi fissi bande verticali e dripping in glitch. Riusciti e comunicativi stati dell'arte da far dialogare con il linguaggio migliore in suoni ed immagine. (7.3/10)