Virtual Rothko Chapel

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Mark Rothko - Black Series

I was particularly intrigued by Mark Rothko's Black Series which is pretty much what it sounds like, a series of black paintings. In 1964, Rothko was commissioned to create a meditative space filled with his paintings. He painted a series of massive black hued paintings that fill the gallery space of what is now known as the Rothko Chapel. When Rothko was asked about the paintings he said that they were meant to represent death and coincidentally he didn't live to see the completion of Rothko Chapel because he committed suicide in 1970. What drew me to these paintings is how they actually contradict the idea of death. At first when one looks at the paintings they appear to be plain "dead" black rectangles (gallery visitors often raise the question "Where are the paintings?") but the longer you look at them, your eyes start to pick out the different hues and layers and the paintings come to life. 

The Update

For my update I wanted to play with the idea of meditation and the "Black Screen of Death" which is the black error screen that shows up on some operating systems when the computer may experience a melt down from a system error. When most people encounter the Black Screen of Death their reaction is to freak out, because nobody wants their computer to have a melt down. I want to use the internet and the idea of Rothko's meditative black paintings to change the way someone may view the Black Screen of Death. My idea is to create a website that resembles the Black Screen of Death but has the same effects of the Rothko paintings. At first the viewer will ask "Where is the website?" but the longer they stare at the screen (and meditate), they may start to see things they didn't at first. The site would be infinite and black, an virtual Rothko Chapel, or a place for people to meditate right on the screen of their computer. 

The Final Project

Enter the Site

My goals in updating this work was to keep the meditation effect that the Rothko Chapel creates. I wanted the viewer of my piece to at first feel like they are experiencing nothing but then realize a change the longer they stay in the 'chapel'. I decided to use sound as the factor to recreate the meditation aspect of the piece. The final project is website that is made up of two hyperlinked pages; an entry page and the 'gallery' or 'chapel' page. The sound playing in the entry page is a recording from an art gallery, footsteps, shuffling, coughing, etc. The song, or series of orchestrated tones used inside the chapel is from a series of music compositions by Morton Feldmen who was a close friend of Mark Rothko. His series, "Rothko Chapel" (1971) was inspired by the Rothko paintings. I chose the particular composition to put in my chapel because I believe it has the same effect as the Black Series paintings. At first it sounds like one continuous note but as you listen closer your ear begins to pick up all the different notes that are playing with in it, just in the same way as the Black Series paintings appear to be solid black at first and then your eye begins to pick out the different tones the longer you look at it. I have also changed the users cursor to match the black background of the site so it is essentially invisible. I did this so the user would not distract themselves but rather sink into the tones of Feldmen's musical composition. 

The website was created using the custom HTML option on Tumblr and looks like this:


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