Pink Noise

John M Armleder, Peter Schuyff, Blair Thurmann


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As we know from Albers’ theory on color, it’s all relative or rather color exists in relation to another color. Chiaroscuro cannot be witnessed without something to outline. How can sfumato achieve its glow against a sea of nothingness? This phenomenon is not limited to vision, but mingles amongst the senses. 

Often people speak of white noise as background sound - even as noise pollution. In the vernacular it can used to describe conversations meant to distract or of no real consequence. In physics; however, instances of white noise would include the hiss of steam from the radiator or static on a radio.

Pink noise, conversely, is often found in nature, such as waves crashing on the beach, leaves rustling through the trees, or the rat-a-tat-at of a steady rain.

Interesting that modern-day people will often employ sound machines on their bedside table as a source of comfort to help them drift off to sleep. These devices are sometimes called white noise machines but come regularly programmed with pink noise like the cascading of a waterfall. 

So what is the optical equivalency? No doubt we derive pleasure from the pattern recognition required in viewing a Peter Schuyff painting and the same can be noticed in the infinity loops of a Blair Thurman. In a 2015 interview, John Armleder commented that art only has any meaning to him while he’s making it. That seems like a very pink noise thing to say: fleeting but deeply registered.

- Bill Powers