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Felipe Chaimovich

The vision of the world as a system bases itself on agreements between people who have interdependent patterns. The perception of colours, particularly, makes evident the need for different persons to compare their experience facing the same phenomenon. When standard chromatic patterns are altered, we are lead to search the measure of ourselves in the look of the others.

Colour is the primitive degree of our experience of an organised group of parts. On the one hand, we learn to identify a single object  by means of its colour. However, in order for us to use it as a recognition pattern, we also learn to perceive each colour in comparison with the others. A red object placed in a room with red lighting will not be definitely seen as red, until it is contrasted with another colour.

Lucia Koch places us in living experiments of social reencounter by means of manipulating the visual experience of colour. The artist deals with her production based on two axes: the diversity of visual screens and of lighting sources. Lucia creates chromatic series ordered with acrylic, film or glass filters. Later she lights them up, be it artificially, be it with natural light which results from the movement of the sun through different seasons or weather. Thus, she alters the spectator’s patterns of organic perception of the world, immediately awakening him/her to aspects usually invisible.

“Gabinete”(Cabinet) is a good example of the proposed experience. This installation, made for the II Biennial of Mercosul (Porto Alegre, Brazil, 1999), makes use of two windows as source of natural lighting of a room existent on the shore of Guaíba river. The intervention maintains the geometrical pattern of the windows: the orthogonal grid. Lucia creates a chromatic matrix by composing the filters which cover, one by one, the original intervals. The set of colours changes from day to day, in an integral manner: the light colours, projected on the floor in the beginning of the afternoon, slowly get distinct and rise through the pilasters, walls and door, until they completely fade away at sunset. The perception of time is manifested: either in the meteorological sense, as clouds, rain or sun alter the perceived sequences, or in the cyclical sense, given by the modification imposed by the different moments of the day.

Facing situations such as the described above, the spectators spontaneously throw themselves into a gauging game. They ask each other which colour is one seeing, whilst they declare their own impressions. Such reaction is verified, above all, in the modifications caused on the vision by monochromatic screens, just as in the case of the windows covered with transparent or translucent filters. In this case, the chromatic series which is perceived is the landscape, although an evident correlation of contrast is kept among the various hues withdrawn by the single colour of the filter. A second kind of modification of the visual field is obtained by using perforated screens, which create a moorish grid  effect; loss of definition requests approaching and distancing the blocking surface.

We depend on each other. Even strangers are lead to compare their perceptions, when they find themselves as spectators of a Lucia Koch’s work. Sociability seems to appear, then, spontaneously, in situations of deviation from our usual perspective of the world.

Published in 8th International Istanbul Biennial catalogue, 2003

Translated by Paula Krause