Le Match des couleurs is a Net.art piece designed by Simon Patterson and commissioned by the Tate.net.The artwork in question is a ‘Flash’ piece depicting a table of colours with their hexadecimal equivalent codes (for web production). When one clicks on one of the squares of colour the piece starts, slowly colours are faded between each other on a full screen in a new window. Eugene Saccomano narrates to us in French; the announcer for football scores on Radio France 1. The narration consists of various football team names being appended to each colour.

The piece immediately makes you question its content or rather the interlacing of its content. This bazaar or familiar opening of display of colour coupled with the French language, leads one to try and find some common ground between the two. Could this common ground be the web? The hexadecimal colours, the web as a media informer with the vocal spearheading this campaign? Or are the colours guiding us through, trying to inform or jog your memory of their disposition in a previous state i.e. football clothing? Are our senses guiding us? If the colours are guiding us or trying to denote a different state, then how can we be sure that this state is the intent of the artist, as surely the state we provide only exists in our memories?

"There has to be something to be seen, light to allow the seeing and something to do the seeing. Together the eye and the brain then construct a representation of what is being seen. Colour is thus not merely a property of the seen object, nor simply of the light reflecting from the object but a dynamic quality that is much a result of the slippery quantity, mind." (Fuller M, The systematic arrangement of the senseless, n.d.)

If the mind is central to this piece then this raises the issue of authorship of the piece, to which I will return. The reading of the football teams can be described as adding clarity to the piece, if one understands French? Or could the clarity come in the comfort of the voice with the layered movement of colours? A comfort or familiarity in TV? The television is a commodity that has engaged the western world for approximately 50 years where as the Internet is relatively new at approximately 20 years therefore retrospectively our knowledge of TV is far superior to that of the Internet.

"It was radio, not television, which produced a measure of political transformation……and if this is the case, it illustrates the possibility that technological innovations which attract the most attention are not necessarily those which are the most significant" (Graham G, The Internet:// a philosophical inquiry, p37)

Interestingly I did not question or acquaint the vocal reading of Patterson's piece with radio. Does this mean the technology is superseding the piece? This questioning of the interlacing of new and old communication within the piece is subject to its supportive technology. This considered one could always labour on this point when analysing Net.art.

..on the critique of net art; " In some ways, this critique is connected to a wider rejection of posthumanism and its insistence on the indistinction between humans and machines, animals and humans and, perhaps most crucially, the physical and the non physical." (Berry J, Human, all too Posthuman? Net Art and its Critics,n.d.)

Patterson certainly makes this 'indistinction' in his piece with the obvious relationship between the program and the human voice. 'The physical and the non physical.' can be determined between the visual relationship of colour, as quoted before by Fuller; 'the slippery quantity mind', and the medium the piece is viewed in, the computer / monitor. In this case Patterson conforms to Berry's Net.art theory.

"Artists are able to make images of quality which is unprecedented. They're able to create and reproduce sound which is unprecedented….. It does not look like video or film it is what it is............There's enormous potential for exploration on a purely formal level, disregarding all the other social and aesthetic concerns." (Ross D, lecture at San Jose State University, 1999)

To argue if Patterson's 'quality' and 'sound' is unprecedented is to define unprecedented; "never having happened before, unparalleled" Collins New Pocket English Dictionary p531. Patterson's ‘sound’ has definitely been created before, the most obvious example being sport commentaries. Visually speaking, the piece is displayed in a simple format, that being a table of colours and an extra window displaying a relay of colour, this 'quality' has happened before in various television advertisements. I have already stated the likeness with TV and the piece and feel this extends into the film / video genre. But, Patterson' s piece does not disregard all other social and aesthetic concerns by his pure layering of colour, this puts the colour to the forefront of our concerns by making it the only visual reference within the piece, one has no choice but to adopt the colour as the aesthetic. He is not without reference to the 'social' by the interlacing of the social sport, football. To this avail, Patterson does not conform to this theory of a Net artist.

Patterson has already conformed, though. In his very submission of his piece to the Tate.Net he has conformed to a criteria, an audience and an effigy. Patterson is an established artist, boasting a career that includes a Turner Prize nomination in 1996. So in this, his first Net.art piece, why did he decided to display it on the web and why was he commissioned by the Tate to produce this work versus established Net artists?

"Curatorial decisions are made through a need to justify hardware and software investments. Artists are a test case." (Cosic V, Sins of Change Conference, 2000)
Patterson's piece was displayed via the Tate's web site, the only hardware and software investments would have been those of the audience for this piece. Does this make the Tate and Patterson responsible for the development and promotion of hardware and software via there audience? A 'test case', I presume is the virgin like quantity of the promotion of Net.art.

"..to the international art world, very few Net.artists are ever known, let alone well known. And now that the're known, is what they're doing dead?! If so, then my suspicion is that Net.art is dead, because it's been retrospectively created." (Cook S, Has curating killed net.art?, 2000)

Patterson's piece was commission by the Tate but lead from a series of similar audio pieces. If the above statement is to be taken as read, then Patterson's piece in some respects is retrospectively created and is then dead. All artwork is surely retrospectively created to a degree as it undergoes a thought process to be created or to be explained as art. Patterson's piece still exists in the Tate archive and is available to view online, is this dead? I believe the more poignant question is that of creativity to which Cook’s report points to.

"I believe that net art and netartists, if they care, can change institutions before they are changed. The issue for institutions is to hope (some of) these artists do care, perhaps even give them a reason to do so." (Dietz S, Why have there been no great Net artitsts?, 1999)

Being a pioneer in any new subject is tantamount to a degree of subversion. Subversion in the sense that one has to be able to think with a pioneers attitude, to go beyond traditional constraints, to 'pioneer'. Patterson has thought creatively about his piece in its inherent ability to make us questions its ethos. That aside, the institution of the Tate must come under some scrutiny for curating a certain mold or a definitive art style.

"..... there is no real attempt to resolve the two components he brings together, to unify them. Perhaps it is the gallery that provides the resolution.....In the context of the gallery, and in this case the web site of the Tate however, the work is coolly not looking for any kind of sense of the synthetic, it simply aims to be there." (Fuller M, The systematic arrangement of the senseless, n.d.)

If the institution, or rather the Tate is providing the resolution, then Patterson's work could not exist without it. Does this mean we already question the works ability to conform to the Tate in its apparent resolution with it? In this context and based on the theories stated, one could place Patterson's piece in a plateau to Net.art and the institution surrounding it. He has successfully juxtaposed two components but has not lifted or questioned any institutional barriers. Maybe the mere representation of his work as a Net.artist’s is Patterson's rebellion to the Tate or maybe it is just a good commercial opportunity.

"Other artists may see the more popular debate concerning payment and intellectual property as part of the commercialisation of the Internet rather than an art debate per se..............New media's very nature - interactivity for one - has demanded of curators different criteria for the aesthetic evaluation of the work" (Cook S and Graham B, A Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media Bliss, 2001)

Patterson has already entered into this debate knowingly or not so, due to the fact that his work still exists on the Tate's web site long after his exhibition. The need, or not to, archive Net.art is a coveted debate within the Net.art field. Patterson has therefore already sanctified his own work within the Tate's forum, the need or want for his piece to exists as just a commodity is denied. Its intellectual status determined, albeit ‘coolly’.

Alongside this issue is the terming of authorship, due to the audiences interaction with an interactive piece of art. In Patterson's piece this interaction comes in the form of one click to activate the sequencing, though a small interaction, it is still just that. This opens a whole spectrum of Le match des couleurs each and every one significant and unique in there own frame.

on interactivity; ".........all modern human-computer interfaces are interactive, i.e. a modern computer are interactive by definition, so the word does not say anything more than simply that an artwork is using a computer." (L Manovich, The Death of Computer Art (Online),1996 revised 2001)

This said, then the terming of interaction within a piece of work is complete in its existence as a computer generated piece and thus the author will always be the user. The need of clarification of the author, if deemed by the artist, can only be stated in archiving.

In summary, Patterson's piece has a simple platform coupled with two multi-layered juxtaposed topics. The content of the colour is debatable in its intent to merely imitate various media’s or be a sanctity of our memory. The commentary lends itself to traditional trends of media announcement. The only focus of change is when we try to unify the two elements together. This unity is achieved when we adopt the 'physical and the non physical' quota. The piece has aesthetic and social concerns, the aesthetic being the representation of colour in its entirety, the social being the relationship to football.

The Tate as the institute behind the display of Patterson's piece, refers to the promotion of hardware and software and that of Net.art per se. Patterson has made no obvious political statement in his piece regarding the ‘institutlisation’ of Net.art. The commercialisation of the piece is not clear either, as good commodity exists in our need for desire and usability, this piece automatically makes you question its very ethos before one can decided to take it home. Its very existence on the web through the Tate makes it internationally available and a commercial success.

The interaction of this piece leads us to question the author of the piece. Whether we need to establish the author or at what point the authorship changes is a concern for the artist, clearly Patterson is not concerned by archiving this point in his obvious application of interaction. Patterson though, has seemingly entered a debate fuelled with passion for archiving art, by his chosen host of the piece.

Le Match des couleurs is not understated in its ability to make us question topical debate, it would appear to me though it resides comfortably and almost quietly in its surround.The future working and presentation of Net.art might have a few ‘scripts’ to say on this matter.

Daniel Croyle


Berry, J (2000?) ‘Human all too Posthuman? Net art and its critics’
http://www.tate.org.uk/netart/humanposthuman.htm 06/10/02 18:00

Cook, S (2000), ‘Has curating Killed net.art?’
http://absoluteone.ljudmila.org/sarah_cook1.php 11/10/02 19:05

Cook, S & (2001) ‘A Curtioral Resource for Upstart Media Bliss’
Graham B http://absoluteone.ljudmila.org/beryl_graham.php 12/10/02 20:42

Collins New Pocket English Dictionary (1984) HarperCollins, Glasgow
Cosic, V (2000), ‘Sins of Change: Media Arts in Transition, Again’
Conference
http://absoluteone.ljudmila.org/sins.php 11/10/02 19:08

Dietz, S (1999), ‘Why have there been no great Net Artists?’
http://www.walkerart.org/gallery9/webwalker/

Fuller, M (2000?) ‘The systematic arrangement of the senseless’
http://www.tate.org.uk/netart/mat3.htm 06/10/02 18:22

Graham, G (1999), ‘The internet://a philosophical inquiry’ Routledge, London
Manovich, L (2001), ‘The Death of Computer Arts Online’
http://absoluteone.ljudmila.org/lev_manovich.php 11/10/02 19:12

Ross, D (1999), ‘Transcription of Lecture by David Ross, San Jose State
University’
http://switch.sjsu.edu/web/ross.html 26/10/02 18:10