Beyond Black

2010 - Ongoing
Nano-sized grid on glass
Dimension Variable

Work Info >

A deliberately designed grid is perceivable only on a nanometer scale; otherwise, the surface of the glass plate appears as a black, reflective, monochrome image. At its most basic level, this combination of art and technology seems to expand the artist’s interest in the relationship for how these two elements have been conceptualized throughout history as ideas. The work is a reflection on the construction of two seemingly opposite, but complementary, twentieth-century conceptions of the techno-cultural image. One is complicit in the processes of reduction, while the other is overwhelmed by a formal complexity that in its very attempt to represent disorder in an orderly way, is often manifested in the form of a grid. Non-representational or non-specific objects are often imbued with a seductive quality, whose very seductiveness is based on their elusiveness. Such objects are empty markers on which we can project our own desires and beliefs, appearing as unknowable voids ready to be filled with our desired projections, but without ever being truly defined by them. Through the proposition of an unlikely construction, Beyond Black speaks to the very idea of intangibility. It reminds us that an object can have a disproportionate effect to its physical presence. The work seeks to raise viewer doubt, while also asking for acceptance and belief. Elusiveness and rhetoric are co-opted as a design strategy to achieve seduction while still suggesting that not everything that is hidden is worth looking for. The reflective surface of the glass is a mirror that casts the viewers’ gaze back on themselves, as they might, given suddenly the self-doubt of being on the receiving end of a joke, intuitively search for something that is imperceptible to the naked eye. _

Andrés Ramírez Gaviria’s Beyond Black (2010), is a “nano-size grid on glass,” a work in which we see a black monochrome surface, and we are told that it is—at the level of one-billionth of a meter—something much more complex, consisting of a tight grid of invisible-to-the-eye lines. At the nanometer level, the grid we cannot see underpins this apparent blackness, destabilizing the visual information our eyes perceive. Once we are told that something is beneath that impenetrable black, that it breaks down, we are beset by more existential questions. This is a poignant metaphor for artistic process, for history writing, for information technology and how we understand it, for social and racial categories. There are countless things we cannot immediately see.

We have to trust that the nanometer grid exists under the blackness. Maybe it doesn’t matter if it is actually there or not. We decide to agree that it is there.

– Laura August

Beyond Black (2010 -) appears innocent —a shiny black panel that reflects the image of the viewer. From this perspective, Beyond Black has a narcissistic appeal. Unbeknownst to the viewer, however, Beyond Black is actually a nanoscale grid—an order only perceptible to humans with the aid of technology. Like many of Gaviria’s works, Beyond Black evokes a secret world, but in this case, order is hidden in plain sight, a kind of open secret. Presciently, Beyond Black shows that in a post-Snowden world, we live in a world of black boxes and open secrets.Beyond Black can be compared to the ultimate code system; the highly classified NSA BLACKER encrypted communication system. Up until the late 1980s, in the world of intelligence agencies there were two worlds: red and black. Red is open and informative—plaintext. Black is closed and seemingly meaningless—ciphertext. Gaviria’s Beyond Black explodes this dichotomy, suggesting that there are codes and orders more black than black, or, blacker. In fact, BLACKER was developed to be exactly this—BLACKER is more black than black, or “beyond black.

– Quinn DuPont