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Warp Your Perception of Color in Carsten Nicolai's Infinite Installation

24 morphing modules explore the relationships between color, semiotics, and psychology in Carsten Nicolai's 'unicolor.'
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Carsten Nicolai - unicolor from studio cn on Vimeo.

As bars of blue, red, green, and grey grow, decay, and blend into one another, a funny feeling takes over viewers of Carsten Nicolai's unicolor: that of being psychologically manipulated by varying wavelengths of light. By creating 24 modules that each "examine a special color perception," according to the artist, Nicolai transformed a mirrored room at the Sapporo International Art Festival into a visceral exploration of color theory and chromatics.


Explains Nicolai, who in the past has transformed skyscrapers into lighthouses, and visualized invisible magnetic fields, "The work unfolds against a long projection wall with two mirror walls on the side thus visually expanding like a universe, operating with a number of modules of different visual effects to interfere with the viewer’s perception […] one module, for example, is the perception of RGB color filters that move in a high velocity sequence and visualize the process from slow to fast, thus evoking an optical effect of a grey surface in the visitor’s perception."

In the project's description, Nicolai states that unicolor builds on past projects univrs/uniscope version (2010) and unidisplay (2012), citing the work of Johann W. von Goethe, Hermann von Helmholtz, Werner Heisenberg, Wilhelm Ostwald, and Eckhard Bendin as "fundamental starting points" for unicolor, and acknowledging influences by artists Josef Albers and Johannes Itten. The result is an immersive but intangible orchestra of hues and values that meditates on the deeper emotional connections between psychology and coloration.

Unicolor was on display at the Sapporo International Art Festival from July 19 to September 28, 2014. Visit Carsten Nicolai's website to learn more about the artist's work.


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Carsten Nicolai | Carsten Nicolai | The Creators Project