It has been 60 years since Yves Klein painted 11 identical blue canvases for his ‘Proposte Monocrome, Epoca Blu' at the Gallery Apollinaire. For this exhibition, each canvas was painted with an ultramarine pigment which was suspended in a synthetic resin that would retain the brilliancy of the blue. This was the start of the colour: International Klein Blue. For Klein there was no other colour that described the infinite better. Three years later, Klein created his performance piece "The Newspaper of a Single Day", where he distributed copies of his own newspaper in Parisian kiosks for one day only. It was a ground breaking moment, no artist had done this before. On the first page, a photograph of the ‘Leap into the void’ is titled: "A man in space!". It seems, for Klein there was little else more exciting than the infinite, the colour blue and the sky.
Please leave me alone; let me go on to the stars. - Arthur C. Clarke
Seventeen years after Yves published his ‘Leap into the Void’, Voyager 2 was launched on an exploratory mission to find and record the planet Neptune. Twelve years later, after having explored Uranus, it reached the blue ice giant and a series of blue photographs were sent back to Earth – it was another one of those ground breaking moments. Our first glimpse of Neptune. But Voyager’s story didn’t end there. Its mission having been extended, Voyager 2 now finds itself over 13 billion miles away from its home planet, exploring interstellar space. Like Yves, it is travelling through the void, observing the infinite.
Fixed to the side of Voyager 2 and its twin Voyager 1, are two Golden Records. Each copper phonogram was made in case a Voyager came into contact with extraterrestrial life and was carefully curated to portray the true diversity of life and culture on Earth. On the record there is a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by the sea, the weather and animals, including the songs of birds and whales. The record additionally features music from different cultures over the decades, spoken greetings in 59 different languages, the sounds of footsteps and laughter and the brain waves of a young women in love. For me, the production of this record and its subsequent attachment to this spacecraft is a celebration of the both optimism and altruism of mankind; of our enduring belief that we might find life elsewhere and that we aren’t completely alone.
When Voyager 2 completed its exploratory mission and took the last photograph of Neptune back in 1989, the cameras needed to be switched off to conserve energy. But astronomer, Carl Sagan, had the romantic idea of turning the spacecraft around to take one final photograph of our planet Earth, one blue planet as seen from another. Objections were raised by NASA as from so great a distance the resulting image would have no scientific value, but Sagan could see the poetic potential of such an image and after much persuading, he was eventually granted permission. What we are left with is an image of a fuzzy, minescle, pale blue dot suspended alone in a dark, black void.
The universe is said to be so unimaginably large because Mankind exists and the western idea that the world would go on without us being here could in fact be incorrect. For example, we could never prove it existed without us being in it. This, in simple terms, is Heisenbergs’ Uncertainty Principle, which suggests that nothing can be said to exist until it is observed. The observer is the participator and we are part of the illusionary performance. Even color is an illusion created by our brains.
What we call art - painting, sculpture, writing, music – is also illusionary. That is, art is employed as a ritual to produce certain effects. Like a magician, the artist is trying to make something happen in the mind of the observer or participator. All art is a performance, a ceremony, as a means not to attain a belief, but rather a way to guide the audience and artist through a portal that allows them to reach abstraction, so that they may transcend and return anew.
The world is certainly what we make of it. How we observe it and how we participate in it. INKQ is a composite stage where artists, scientists, philosophers and historians can participate, exploring their ideas in a space without boundaries, without convention. This could be a ground breaking moment, as with all things, we don’t yet know. Like Yves and Voyagers 1 and 2, we are taking the leap. Thank you for being on this journey with us.