03 December, 2007

High Praise for Abstraction

This is an image of the artist Gerhard Richter installing his latest work at Cologne Cathedral in Germany. It is made up of 11,000 squares of coloured glass and looks like a giant pixelated computer screen. Although he was originally approached by the church's head architect to construct a martyr scene, he instead chose to use his painting '4096 Colours' (1974) as the starting point. The result was not merely haphazard, as the 72 colours that were chosen for the work were taken directly from the other works of stained glass in the cathedral. The result is stunningly framed by the gothic tracery of the windows and creates a high tension between the gothic architecture and what is essentially a piece of abstract art. It caused a stir in the church's circles, but the reactions from both the art world and churchgoers have been resolutely positive. The head architect who approached Richter has said it creates; "... a beguiling light which incorporates everything that has been said about spirituality, light and colour." High praise indeed.

The use of the digital image as a symbol in fashion is all to evident these days. It seems as if we weren't too far wrong in the 50's when we thought the digital age would be upon us by now. This season Basso and Brooke have oversize pixelated prints in muted autumnal colours, that distort the body shape with their construction; going forwards into next season Raf Simons and Walter von Bierendonck had two very different views of the future through computer. Raf, the staunch futurist, declared that the 'myspace generation' was dead and looked towards the diasporic traveller as his start point. Of course his product was high future, with shoes closing with high-tech elastics, and the tops made from ruched nylons, the least manmade of fabrications. The result was akin to his computer generated characters running from the game, taking to the hills with their useless equipment, that wouldn't help against the elements. Walter, on the other hand, created his 'characters' literally with computer generation. They were all made in the program Second Life and then the clothes seemed to be forced to fit in with this twisted body image. There were corsets by Mr. Pearl and hats by Stephen Jones that looked like nothing either of them would have created without the help of CG rendering programs... His characters left the computer game and showed their true colours to the world, out of context, but ready for any pixelated fireball that might be thrown at them... And in the future, it doesn't seem so unimaginable.


Basso & Brooke AW07  : Raf Simons SS08  : Walter von Bierendonck SS08

For me, noone has married this digital with the actual as well as Gerhard Richter and his Cologne Cathedral. I would love to see Walter's Sex Clowns taking communion from a priest in a nylon robe... But none of it would be possible without Richter's light illuminating them.

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