Galerie Sanaa / The Invisibility of Colour – Harm van den Berg

Galerie Sanaa / The Invisibility of Colour – Harm van den Berg

Gallery SANAA in Utrecht presents The Invisibility of Colour by artist Harm van den Berg. The exhibition runs from May 20 to June 13, 2023, and consists of a sound installation, drawings, and a performance. 

In his drawings and sound installations, Harm van den Berg (1970) investigates natural processes that blur the interface between nature and culture. These processes – often invisible to the human eye – shape the visible world through phenomena such as self-organization, complexity, and emergence.

The Invisibility of Colour is part of Van den Berg’s research into emergent processes, or spontaneous phenomena. These phenomena are common in nature. Think of a flock of birds that shows fantastic shapes in the sky. A colony of ants that makes the most amazing structures. Or fireflies blinking in perfect sync by the thousands. This swarming behaviour is not much different from how atoms and small particles interact. Colour, for example, is also an emergent phenomenon: atoms have no colour, colour only appears when there are a large number of atoms in a certain arrangement.

Sound installation

For the sound installation, Van den Berg interviewed people to name and describe colours. Hundreds of these spoken colours sound through 20 invisible loudspeakers spread over a large white surface. In this installation, different senses are played off against each other, and a new experience spontaneously arises.


The concentrated pencil drawings show fine-meshed structures that are created by the frequent repetition of elements such as a triangle, line, or circle. The drawings show the result of an emergent process, initiated by the spontaneous self-organization during the drawing process.

Part of the drawings shown in the exhibition is a digital inversion of the original drawings. The surface of the high-quality piezo prints is deep black, and the drawing is white. It gives the drawn structures more depth.


Together with Junko Murakawa (JPN), Harm van den Berg makes abstract electronic music with semi-modular synthesizers. By short-circuiting these instruments via a patch bay, self-generating and spontaneously self-organizing sounds are created.

Under the name Midori Iro, Junko and Harm create unpredictable sonic landscapes ranging from subtle harmonies to extreme dissonances. Junko’s inimitable voice – from devoutly sung old Japanese hymns to raked-up manuals – adds an extra dimension to the hypnotic electronic sounds of simmering synthesizers.

Their performance will take place on Saturday, June 3 at 8:00 PM. With Japanese snacks.

Harm van den Berg’s work has been exhibited in, among others, Museum Belvédère, Museum De Paviljoens, Kunstvereniging Diepenheim, Netherlands Media Art Institute (NIMk), Galeria Klovicevi in Zagreb, Crossing Border Festival, Zoo Gallery in Nantes, W139, Arti et Amicitiae, Goethe-Institut, and AC Institute in New York City.

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