Ryan Gander: STORE
Withers, Rachel, Artforum International
Ryan Gander seems to be something of a tease. His installation But it was all green, 2003, camouflaged STORE's exterior windows by covering them with the type of reflective, translucent black plastic sheeting that usually connotes "sex shop." The near-empty interior, however, would instantly have dashed the hopes of any visitor seeking reading matter of the one-handed variety. The floor was covered with plain black carpet, four speakers were placed in the gallery's ceiling corners, and an antiquated but functioning flip-dot signboard was inset in the wall, an apparently random scattering of yellow dots slowly trickling down its surface. The work (which contained no green element whatsoever, at least optically speaking) exemplified what the 2003 Prix de Rome catalogue characterizes as Gander's "minimal, barely expressive visual language."
The work's aural content amply made up for this sparseness. Above the discreet rustle of the signboard, the speakers relayed the cultivated voice of British art historian Margaret Garlake, delivering a script (by Gander) in the form of an illustrated lecture on color--or rather, on invisibility. It described seven instances (some possibly fictitious or at least exaggerated) of colors devised or evolved to facilitate disappearance. (It also included some writerly slips--like the misuse of the words "misnomer" and "allegedly"--that slightly undermined the project's authority. Gander needs to find himself an editor.) Examples included "the world's blackest black," an exceptionally light-absorbent chemical coating invented to improve the Hubble Space Telescope's imaging capacity; the specific blue used for Chroma-Key video effects; the black leopard's deceptive "spots" (the consequence of differences in fur length rather than color); and Black Watch military tartan. Originally made from a mix of exclusively black fibers, this textile only revealed its tartan weave when caught by the light (or so Gander claims). …