(working with the negatives)

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a work by Roberto Fassone, 2015


"I learned working with the negatives could make for better pictures" Drake, HYFR

"Develop a negative into a positive picture" Lauryn Hill, Everything is Everything


Rachel Whiteread, Ghost, 1990

Rachel Whiteread Ghost

In her breakthrough 1990 work Ghost, Rachel Whiteread created a positive from a negative, making a plaster cast of the interior "void" of a Victorian parlor measuring approximately 9 feet wide, 11 1/2 feet high, and 10 feet deep. Whiteread has said of this sculpture that she was trying to "mummify the air in the room," hence the title. Whiteread created Ghost over a period of three months in an abandoned building at 486 Archway Road, North London, covering the interior walls with multiple plaster molds, each about five inches thick. When the plaster dried, she peeled the molds from the walls and reassembled them on a steel frame.


Negative Spaces in Logos

The hidden "C" in Carrefour


The hidden arrow in FedEx



The hidden bear in Toblerone



The hidden 1 in F1




Apophatic Theology

Apophatic Theology, also known as negative theology, is a theology that attempts to describe God, the Divine Good, by negation, to speak only in terms of what may not be said about the perfect goodness that is God.


"If I say, for instance, that this thing is blue, I do also know that is not red, green, yellow, etc.. In one shot, I applied the entire color spectrum"

Ludwig Wittgenstein e il Circolo di Vienna, colloqui annotati da Friedrich Waismann, La Nuova Italia, Firenze 1975; Mimesis, Milano, 2011



“Concepts are purely differential and defined not by their positive content but negatively by their relations with the other terms of the system.  Their most precise characteristic is in being what they other are not. For example, if something isn’t ‘hot’ or ‘cold,’ it must be ‘warm.’  If something is ‘good,’ it means it is not ‘average’ or’ excellent.’

Ferdinand de Saussure. Course in General Linguistics. (1959) The Philosophical Library, New York City.


Cesare Pietroiusti, Things that are certainly not art, 2002


Cesare Pietroiusti’s project for Bloomberg SPACE involved inviting individuals to bring something to the gallery that they believed is certainly not art. These items were then sorted, x-rayed, catalogued and placed within the galleries of Bloomberg SPACE. Each participant was given a receipt which entitled them to collect their contribution at the end of the exhibition. The work focused on the inherent paradox of an art project that features explicitly non-art objects shown in an art context. It questioned ‘what art is not, rather than what it is’.


Robert Fowler, Anyone but here..., catalogue of the exhibition at in out aut, published by Davide Mattioli Gallery, 2002


The project originated in transcription - through vinyl lettering on wall - of the names of every artists not featured in the show itself. The full list is reported as appeared in the ranking of the website


Conspicuous by its absence

Also, conspicuous by one's absence. Glaringly obvious by the fact of not being there. For example, One agenda item concerning publicity is conspicuous by its absence, or The bride's father was conspicuous by his absence. The idea is ancient; it was expressed by the Roman writer Tacitus, concerning the absence of Junia's brother and husband at her funeral procession.



George Perec, La Disparition, 1969

la disparition

A Void, translated from the original French La Disparition, is a 300-page French lipogrammatic* novel, written in 1969 by Georges Perec, entirely without using the letter e, following Oulipo constraints.

*A lipogram is a kind of constrained writing or word game consisting in writing paragraphs or longer works in which a particular letter or group of letters is avoided—usually a common vowel, and frequently "E", the most common letter in the English language. For the Ancient Greeks, the absence of the sigma is the earliest example of a lipogram.


Yves Klein, The Void , 1958


Yves Klein's celebrated, although cumbrously titled 1958 exhibition La spécialisation de la sensibilité à l'état matière première en sensibilité picturale stabilisée: Le Vide (The Specialization of Sensibility in the Raw Material State into Stabilized Pictorial Sensibility: The Void) provides art history with its first truly notable engagement with the immaterial artwork. Yves Klein: The Void by removing everything except a large cabinet from the gallery space and painting every surface white (left), Klein's proposition was that the aura of his presence was artwork enough. ("I will concentrate alone in the room, and then present a sensitive pictorial space to the public", he said at the time).


Gino De Dominicis, Cubo Invisibile (Invisible Cube), 1969

cubo invisibile


AndyWarhol, Invisible Sculpture, 1983


"Andy wanted to make the Invisible Sculpture. I don't know what the inspiration for that was. He may have watched 'The Invisible Man' one night on television. So, again, we got out the Yellow Pages and found burglar alarms, different systems. Some with sound, some with light beams. They were all different looking and sculptural because they had different shapes and different systems. We mounted these burglar alarms on brackets all around the perimeter of the big room in the middle of the Factory, which was by then referred to not as the Factory but as Andy Warhol Studios. And we aimed them all at the center of the room where nothing existed. If you walked into the room and you hit this center point, all of these alarms would go off. You'd have every different kind of sound; chirping, booming, buzzing. It was funny. But it was also a kind of existential abstract question: If a tree falls in the forest and there is nobody there to hear it, does it make a sound?... It was a brilliant conceptual work but also very physical because we actually had the mechanical alarms. It was like a kinetic sculpture in some way: a sound sculpture, a light sculpture. But there was nothing there; it was totally invisible... The Invisible Sculpture stayed up for a long time, but it was experimental really. We only had it activated for maybe a month. It used to drive Fred crazy; it was almost like a practical joke. Andy and I would drag somebody in and say, 'This is the new art; go stand in the middle of the room.' And they would, and all the sirens would go off. Then Fred would come and say, 'Andy, I'm on the phone.' Or Brigid would yell. Everybody would yell because Andy and I were constantly having people walk into this imaginary space." 


Maurizio Cattelan, Untitled (Denunzia), 1991


Untitled (Denunzia) consists of a police report earnestly filing the claim that an invisible sculpture had been stolen from Cattelan's car. Maurizio Cattelan purportedly conceived when the artist was struggling with ideas for an impending show, Denunzia neatly replaces absence of inspiration with an inspired parody of the absent artwork.


Tino Sehgal, This Success (or) This Failure, 2007

The absences underpinning Tino Sehgal's carefully choreographed "constructed situations" lie in their insistently ephemeral status. They are not meant to be photographed, catalogued or physically illustrated, and produce no other artefacts. Sehgal's works, therefore, reside only in the space and time they occupy, and in the recollection of their reception. The 2007, alternately titled This Success (or) This Failure, for example, featured young children in school uniforms attempting to play without using objects.


Ellipsis: with this figure there is an intentional omission of something, that makes us think about it. There is something that is not showed.

The Lasik Surgery Clinic



Bajaj: "India's most efficient engine. Someday there will be a bike for it"



Sedex: "Trust us. We deliver it fast"



wijnne barends: "Just add water. We'll take care of the rest"



Nick Relph, Raining Room, 2012



Santo Tolone, Salame, 2009


"...the brass corresponds to an absent slice of salami that once lay on a plinth-height kitchen table; each peppercorn – carefully kept aside – has been re-skewered in its original position..."


Damien Ortega, Materialista, 2008


Materialista is the word used in mexico to designate a truck that transports construction materials. when one enters the galpão, this is precisely what one sees: a truck hanging from steel cables from the gallery’s ceiling. however, what our mind immediately identifies as a truck is actually only the vehicle’s chromed parts and the voids between them. The radiator, the bumpers, the mud flaps, the mirrors – all of the chromed parts – are hung there as if there were in fact a motor, a driver’s cabin and seat. but there is only empty space between them. Our understanding of the pieces present takes place through the context in which they are included, since only a lone piece would be unidentifiable and its function imperceptible. The structure that is formed thus resembles a constellation.


Latifa Echakhch, Fantasia (Empty Flags), 2007



Carmit Gil, Bus, 2003


A sculpture by artist Carmit Gil continues the theme of buses and suicide bombings. Gil participated in the 2003 Venice Biennale, where her work was exhibited in the Central Pavilion. Gil’s Bus, 2002 appears to be a series of randomly placed bright red poles dispersed over a white open space. However, Gils’ minimalist sculpture is in fact, an interpretation of a bus skeleton. The viewer has no clue this was a vehicle of public transportation and the poles are the fragmented remains of a bus is encouraged to climb up the stairs. Soon, the viewer realizes the bright red climbing frame was a bus’s floor and railings – the remains of a suicide bombing. Gil set out to show that the bus's remains, much like human remains, are cleaned up immediately after “the event”, leaving no indication as to what has happened.


Cory Arcangel, Super Mario Clouds, 2011

Super Mario Clouds is an old Mario Brothers cartridge which I modified to erase everything but the clouds.


Josè Luis Martinat, Cárcel, 2011

Cárcel is Martinat’s sixth video exploring situational tropes in popular Warner Brothers cartoons, which have been broadcast widely in Latin America for over four decades. (Other topics in the series include the city, the road, and war.) The artist erases all characters and dialogue from well-known animations, preserving only the backgrounds. A sense of narrative lingers in these abandoned scenes, no longer a stage for comedy.


Riccardo Giacconi, Quello che non c'è #2 (What is not there), 2009

Language prearranges strategies to refer to itself. It is capable of producing techniques in order to isolate the space of an enunciation, and to make a performance out of it – a performance that aims to reach a specific final effect. The so-called ‘punch line’ is sort of a ‘flick of the tail’ of language, which flashes and lightens the whole space of enunciation which anticipates it. By removing this ‘flick of the tail’, the univocal function of enunciation is revoked. But the futility it acquires can open a space for sense, where the performative value of language is less easy to locate. “The evidence: sense, games of sense, its abolition, its reappearance, are never anything other than a matter of place” (Roland Barthes).






p>Jay Chung, Nothing Is More Practical Than Idealism, 2001


Chung, produced, wrote and directed a short 35 mm film with a crew of 20, but with no film in the camera.


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