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Colourful Dialogue: Vilém Flusser, Karl Gerstner and the Casa da Cor

Casa da Cor connected Vilém Flusser with an important interlocutor: Karl Gerstner. Gerstner’s systems-based approach was laid out in his book Designing Programmes: Instead of Solutions for Problems, Programmes for Solutions (1964). He was involved in New Tendencies, the 1960s Zagreb-based group that saw research and the computer as a medium for artistic innovation, and he was included in landmark exhibitions like The Responsive Eye (1965) at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and documenta 4 (1968). Flusser and Gerstner discussed developing a denotative color code and creating a three-dimensional color space, called Colorarium, that would follow precedents like Kandinsky’s The Yellow Sound, composer Ivan Wyschengradsky’s audition colorée, or Le Corbusier’s Poème électronique (1958), as well as Gerstner’s earlier environments made with televisions, Plexiglass spheres, and acrylic-on-polyester reliefs. Neither the Colorarium nor the color code were realized, but they were theorized in Flusser’s writings: “On Science III” (1988) in Artforum mentioned Casa da Cor and asked, “Could a color code become a sort of universal Esperanto, complementing or even substituting for spoken and written language?”

Colourful Dialogue (PDF 260.76 KB)