The digital life of paintings

The French artist Yves Klein 1928-1962 produced a set of monochrome paintings – a photo of one of them is shown on the left (downloaded from the Tate website) and is entitled IKB 79 1959

Following Amy’s post ‘What is real‘, I thought I would like to ask a number of related questions. Some of these have been on my mind since the first IDEL module and are also part of my dissertation considerations.

  1. Can we have an aesthetic experience from this image?
  2. How does the experience differ from seeing the painting in a gallery, or indeed on other digital devices (phone, PC, tablet…)

The Tate website explains:

‘The letters IKB stand for International Klein Blue, a distinctive ultramarine which Klein registered as a trademark colour in 1957. He considered that this colour had a quality close to pure space and he associated it with immaterial values beyond what can be seen or touched.’

This digital image also represents the immaterial. But a different kind of immaterial. Can the immaterial of the internet help us understand different interpretations of ‘immaterial’?

I am currently reading around the topic of Deleuze’s ‘Rhizome‘ and hope to find more theoretical support.


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9 Responses to “The digital life of paintings”

  1. Jen Ross January 24, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    My understanding of the word “experience” has taken a beating in the last 24 hours. :-) How are you defining it, for your purposes? Does it involve presence/immersion?

  2. Phil Devine January 25, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

    “How does the experience differ from seeing the painting in a gallery, or indeed on other digital devices (phone, PC, tablet…)”

    Apparent and the existent – exactly the question. Love the way you have taken that question back to the bone! Now where…

  3. Phil Devine January 25, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

    No true impasto only colour – but then that depends on monitor settings? Where could impasto be defined in the digital?

  4. Phil Devine January 25, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

    Not sure if Yves Klein intended me to view his ‘International Klein Blue’ painting on my MAC? My gamma is a degree down – so it’s not as the artist intended? But is that always the case? Although the eye is more reliable in representing existent colour – Additive or Subtractive colour.

  5. Giraf87 January 25, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

    great reply!

    what I have in mind is as follows, and linked to the Museum Education paper that Jen posted.

    Museums have sort of moved on from being the guardians of the art estate, to being major educational players. Embracing new technology they have developed lots of ways of interacting with various audiences. I think many of these online repositories, including the Tate one above, are great educational resources. For the user, having a gallery on your laptop (or phone or tablet) is a great way of accessing educational and art historical facts from no matter what location.

    What I am interested in is to find out if, considering increased online activity (including social media such as blogs, smart phone apps etc) to what extend these digital images can actually support an ‘aesthetic experience’? in order to evaluate this, one has to consider of course what is an experience in this context. Aesthetics is another ingredient. In an online context, are these 2 components re-defined, should we do away with the exisiting framework, or develop an enirely new media framework (new media itself subject to realignment )?

    Using Yves Klein as an example is a rather stark challenge. I could have picked the Mona Lisa, or Van Goch,Picasso… any of those great artists… Enjoying these images online is however part of our conditioned digital diet…. How will this evolve?…. many questions….

    As you said, your mac was not the original intention… millions of pounds/dollars/EU are spent on digitising artworks, HD quality etc. We can see close ups of paintings the ‘eye has never seen’ (a la Blade Runner)…. so..?

  6. Phil Devine January 27, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

    Spent rather a lot of time in the Rothko room (in what is now TATE Britain) in between illustration commissions when I lived in London. Not being obsessive (I don’t think?) just loved the transformational almost (dare I say it) spiritual experience. I would say the lack of surface in the digital is problematic in visual interpretation. It’s as though we need to always view digital as we view photography?

    I think what I’m trying to get at is ‘what is unique in digital’ – We have now arrived at complete deconstruction, a simple colour square!

    After some thought, in my opinion what is unique in digital is the phenomenon of meaning making via a combination of media’s including video, text chat, VC, image and metaphor etc.

    Multi-modal delivery / meaning making.

  7. Giraf87 January 29, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    Indeed – Multi-modal delivery / meaning making.

    = a combination of images/text/sound that is delivered/re-appropriated/contributed/experienced by the viewer.

    All this can be perceived from many perspectives, technological, economical, authoritative, public, political… it seems that the aesthetic will be ‘submitted’ (in the sense of .

    Perhaps the perceived accessibility of art online is more controlled than ever before?

  8. Giraf87 January 30, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

  9. Giraf87 April 2, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    I just read the chapter Rhizome in Deleuze and Guattari’s A 1000 Plateaus. I can say the chapter is utterly thrilling, but based on a first read, I believe there is no immediate theoretical input for aesthetic online experiences. The rhizome can support the idea of ‘immanence’ though, something artists can facilitate.

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