‘A bit of nothing- but more nothing-much than nothing-ness’ – David Batchelor
When there is a space of emptiness in our landscape, it is often seen as a void. Areas of white space placed in our environment are viewed as the same. A deep hole of nothing that can make us uneasy. When describing a void, we usually think of a quiet space outwith the city such as fields, lakes or outer space. My development with this phenomenon has resulted in me looking into voids in our urban landscape and how they silence an area that would normally be bustling.
This silence is where my two ideas from my previous blog post combine. The silent nothingness that white space brings to every day urban life connects to the silence I believe a life devoid of colour would create for someone suffering from Achromatopsia. We cannot describe a void using language, only silence, we also cannot describe colour using language to someone who has never seen it. Its an experience that needs to be seen and felt.
I was inspired by David Batchelors’ ‘Found Monochromes’- a series of photographs of white squares and rectangles that he has found in urban areas.
Batchelor states, “I often feel that abstract art is the art of the city and that the monochrome is its exemplary form”. Monochromes are seen as simple but as Yves Klein proved in blue and Batchelor in white, they are quite complex. His photographs display blank spaces that are out of place and detached from their surroundings, but are very much temporary. ‘Like errors in the visual fabric that have to be corrected’, they seem unnatural and have to be painted over to put people at ease.
The following is a selection of photographs that I have taken in urban environments where I have felt silence and emptiness in the heart of the city. Urban voids, urban silence.
Finishing off with a recent find I was inspired by while walking through town. I discovered voids in a street that I travel down quite often. South Tay Street in Dundee has many grills on its pavements that I literally walk right over and have never taken notice of before. They provide a little bit of nothing, an emptiness to the walkway that often gets overlooked. A little void amongst a concrete jungle.
I was inspired by David Batchelor’s ‘Found Monochromes’ to make my own white voids. I used circular paper plates as this is the shape we relate voids in outer space to be and placed them in empty urban areas. I found these ‘placed monochromes’ mimicked the silence of the forgotten land among busy areas and drew the attention of those who passed by to the land they usually ignore. I left the voids for a few days and when I returned each one was gone and the empty land reverted back into a forgotten urban void.