Two CRT monitors display full-screen monochromes that change at five-second intervals, slightly out of sync, seemingly in response to one another, producing a loop of random colour pairings. Elsewhere, the colours meet in irregular grids.
The colours are swatches representing individual students in lieu of cameras from classroom meetings on Zoom. As instructors in art and design institutions, we returned to teaching a year ago under pandemic conditions and found that our studios, like many others, had become virtual and faceless. These studios had not only lost the texture of time, they also lacked any colour as we found ourselves looking at screens filled with dark grey rectangles. Uninterested in staring into this void and at the same time interested in engaging our students in some sort of collaboration, we asked them to choose a colour and also did so ourselves. These individual colour choices collectively produce unpredictable compositions: as participants enter, exit, and speak the swatches change number and position, generating new arrangements. The monochromes, grids, and chance operations that are emblematic of twentieth-century avant-garde art are reconstituted in the dynamically changing grids of the algorithmically organized Zoom interface that has become emblematic of this era of physically distanced sociability.
Taking its title from a correspondence project between John Berger and John Christie that began with the question “what could our next project be?” and the answer “just send a colour,” ‘I Send You This Cadmium Red’ began in a moment of uncertainty and took shape through an exchange of colours. The anthropomorphic call-and-response behaviour of the monitors with their continually changing monochromatic screens represents a correspondence that has taken place over the past year and a half among unseen individuals across multiple continents and in different time zones.
‘I Send You This Cadmium Red’ was made with the participation of students in Design 1 and Design 2 at UTM/Sheridan (Bozdarov; fall 2020, winter/summer/fall 2021) and Graphic Design 1 at OCAD (Rodmore; fall 2020, fall 2021).
The Drake Hotel