Im/Possible Rainbows and Unnamed Colours

Rosa Menkman is a Dutch artist and researcher. Her work focuses on noise artifacts that result from accidents in both analogue and digital media. These artifacts can offer precious insights into the otherwise obscure alchemy of standardization and resolution setting.
Place holder project Image Rosa Menkman

Place holder project. Image Rosa Menkman

Im/Possible Rainbows and Unnamed Colours

Is Golden Hour just one band of a planetary-scale rainbow happening at dusk and dawn?
Do rainbows exist beyond the visible frequency bands of the electromagnetic frequency spectrum?

As part of her EPFL residency, Menkman aims to explore the possibility of capturing alternative and impossible rainbows, ranging from those that exist beyond humanly visible light, to those that refract in unnatural shapes and organizations. In addition, Menkman will dive into the realm of unnamed colors that exist beyond the visible frequencies that the human eye can see, such as those present in X-RAY frequencies or FM radio. Although these frequencies lack a particular color name, they are specific demarcations to sensation. Through these explorations, Menkman seeks to expand the limits of human perception and unlock new possibilities for understanding color and light.

Collaborations: EPFL Center for Imaging and the broad EPFL scientific community.

A Spectrum of Lost and Unnamed Colours

Dates of the exhibition:
EPFL Pavilions – Pavilion A

Opening: 22.02, 6 pm

In a not-too-distant future, a media archaeologist has tasked herself with compiling an atlas dedicated to lost or unknown ways of seeing. During this mission she finds herself captivated by a Neon Rainbow Fairy Light, an object seemingly plucked from a child’s bedroom. The archeologist proclaims the fairy light to be a quintessential artifact that encapsulates the entire history of the decline of nature’s original “glitch”—the atmospheric rainbow.

Proper observation of rainbows has become rare due to a double process of pollution. On the one hand, climate change, environmental degradation, and light pollution have dulled atmospheric rainbows’ brilliance, making their occurrence increasingly unusual and their sightings more precious. On the other hand, within the realms of image processing, digital pollution has corrupted and distorted the representation of rainbows even more: as generative artificial intelligence struggles to differentiate between symbolic representations—the rainbow-alike—and actual depictions of natural phenomena, images of authentic rainbows have become anomalous.

Punctuated by crafted translucent sigils and informed by practical and speculative dialogues with computer and environmental scientists at EPFL, A Spectrum of Lost and Unnamed Colours is a mesmerizing mixed-media installation that takes us on a journey while calling for a holistic categorization of various types of color loss.

Opening Thursday February 22nd 2024, at 6 pm
in the presence of the artist
EPFL Pavilions – Pavilion A

Exhibition/project credits

Rosa Menkman, A Spectrum of Lost and Unnamed Colours, 2024
Mixed-media installation: sigils, rainbow generator, and video

Commissioned and produced in the framework of EPFL – CDH Artist in Residence Program 2023, Enter the Hyper-Scientific.

Curator & Head of Pogram: Giulia Bini

Graphic design and Identity: Jakob Kirch (Lamm & Kirch)

Sound: Debit

In collaboration with:
EPFL Center for Imaging, Edward Andò
CLIMACT Center for Climate Impact and Action UNIL & EPFL

With support from: Lotte Menkman, Herman Hermsen, and So Kanno

Rosa Menkman

Rosa Menkman

Rosa Menkman is a Dutch artist and researcher. Her work focuses on noise artifacts that result from accidents in both analogue and digital media. These artifacts can offer precious insights into the otherwise obscure alchemy of standardisation and resolution setting. As a compendium to this research, she published the Glitch Moment/um (inc, 2011), a little book on the exploitation and popularization of glitch artifacts.

Menkman developed and highlighted the politics of resolution setting further in a second book titled Beyond Resolution (i.R.D., 2020). In this book, she describes how the standardization of resolutions is a process that generally promotes efficiency, order and functionality in our technologies. But how as a side effect, the setting of resolutions also compromises and obfuscates alternative possibilities.

In 2019 Menkman won the Collide, Arts at CERN Barcelona award, which inspired her recent research into what makes things im/possible, including im/possible images. In this new research she aims to find new ways to understand, use and perceive through the use of and interaction with our technologies.

Rosa Menkman website