Sunday, February 1, 2009


BLDNG #6 (alternative view)
36"h x 75"w x 1"d
Color Duct tape on enameled hardboard
David Fobes 2008

My first experiments in color mixing began in second grade. On a cold, wintry gray Maryland afternoon, I stole my way to the under window heat radiator and “accidentally” dropped broken bits of crayola, down through the grate and onto the hot metal a few inches below. Within minutes my yellow and blue had merged and miraculously made green! This led to more experimentation with every color, until there was a molten mess of brownish wax, which started to burn and smell. I was detained after to school, to think about what I had done. My conclusion after much reflection; Yellow and Blue make green, Yellow and Red make orange, Red and Blue make purple. This was an epiphany.

Another very early emotional association I have with color is flying box kites with my father and brothers. We would run the kites on brisk, bright fall or spring days. There was the excitement of the kite lifting off, and then the visual thrill of the bright colored geometric figure against a brilliant blue sky.

These are idyllic images, seemingly from another lifetime. My world, our world today, has lost much of the colored optimism I once knew. I would use the tired analogy of a world transformed into shades of gray, except that our government and corporate America are now painting the world green. Green is the new gray.
In 2001, the U.S. Department of Homeland security, issued a National terror alert on its website ( The alert explains how to create a “safe room” in your home from biological agents, using duct tape as a first line of defense. That alert became the butt of late night comedians jokes, and forever changed the cultural consciousness about the sticky, silver gray tape.

Ironically (coincidentally?), a new duct tape craft phenomenon has been gaining ground in the year’s post 9/11, particularly among youths. Duct tape wallets, Duct tape purses, duct tape belts and duct tape Haute Couture. There is now a national competition for duct tape prom wear! The upside is a new abundance of colored tapes on the market. Silver gray is “so yesterday.”
My awareness of these new duct tape colors, the post 9/11 the collective consciousness and a corresponding movement of my own furniture design toward more and more two dimensional results, has coalesced into this current body of work. The optimism of these two dimensionally based illusions and the seduction of the material qualities, are undermined by the nagging reference to current world affairs, brought on by the unfortunate semiotic baggage of duct tape.

“Chromantic” is a word I have constructed, fabricated from the words chrome (color) and mantic, the ability to “see” or be prophetic or visionary. Much like the visions elucidated by a clairvoyant, they are not whole, they are missing bits of information, or the information itself may be ambiguous. Meaning in either context can be misinterpreted, misunderstood or misleading, but makes the experience no less meaningful.

David Fobes
September 2008

Link to Chromantic Exhibition, SimaySpace Gallery, Sept-Oct. 2008

1 comment:

  1. OK, Dave, don't be shy. Give us more, if only pictures.
    Nice to see you last night...