The first graphic arrangement of colors enclosed in a circle (in which selected rainbow colors were arranged in a diagram) was the work of Sir Isaac Newton in 1704. It was an arbitrary selection of eight colors meeting in the center of a circle. Since then, many color circles have been created with various numbers of fields and numerous models of color space. None of these images contain all the colors that the human eye can distinguish, but they comprise numerous colors from which one can compose an infinite number of hues – even those which have never been named and which the human eye cannot distinguish.
Bownik’s individual works within this series evoke peculiar color circles. However, they are not in any way organized or subjected to rules. The interpenetrating colors have not been named and – like in the rainbow – they blend at the edges. They assume subtle shades that merge with each other in unexpected ways. These are not the tones, schemes or arrangements we know from life’s iconosphere and their vibrant, ambiguous nature is emphasized by the coarse paper onto which they are printed.
Each wheel was created by photographing a spinning disk with a photograph or engraving depicting a bird that has gone extinct. In Bownik’s vision, the vivid, saturated colors of bird plumage dissolve and turn into a spinning spectroscopic apparition. The extinct birds have returned to life in mysterious forms – a spectre casting its shadow. Each Circle in the series is numbered, although it’s a transposition – an artistic registration of a specific representative of a nonexistent species. Spectrum birds no longer have proper nouns, just as our vocabulary doesn’t have the names for all the colors of time lost. Time eats its own children, but also eats the memory of them as well.