Introduction to the Series "Gray Paintings"

by Hideki Nakazawa

Color is the essence of painting, and it is perceived by three types of retinal cone cells. In this series, Nakazawa used the same quantity of cyan, magenta and yellow which was sent from the retina to the brain (Mental Color Mixture) to make the total perceptive information gray. The physiological effects, a color theory called retinal color mixture by the impressionists, color printing, and digital graphics technology are all utilized in these works through a mathematical method called ternary notation.

Each work consists of integers from 0 to 728. That is to say, from "000000" to "222222," because all the integers are written with six-digit ternary notation. There are 729 integers (including 0), and 4374 numerals are used (729x6=4374). Since every numeral is represented by a small colored square, each work can be said to be a painting with 4374 pixels. Cyan, magenta and yellow each representing 0, 1 and 2 are in the ratio of 1:1:1, each with 1458 pixels (4374/3=1458).

In the five works from "#1" to "#5," each unit of six colored squares which represents an integer forms a horizontal row (6 by 1). The basis is on the fact that numbers are usually written in a horizontal row. In the five works from "#6" to "#10," each unit of six colored squares forms a tall rectangle (2 by 3). The basis is on the fact that the painting itself is a tall rectangle as a whole.

In "#1" and "#6," the row of integers arranged in a linear fashion returns itself successively at the same width (54 pixels by 81 lines). This style is of a one-dimensional text file, and is accompanied by a preference where numbers tend to get larger as it is placed at lower row of integers. In order to remove the preference and to make it more of a two-dimensional painting style, Nakazawa introduced a rule-based shuffling for "#2," "#4," "#7" and "#9," and symmetrization for "#3," "#5," "#8" and "#10."

(English supervised by Harutaka Oribe)

japanese | back | top