Between Life and Non-Life: Sachiko Kodama’s Black and Bridget Riley’s Pink


  • Yukiko Kato



black, Bridget Riley, color theory, cyborg, feminism, pink;, Sachiko Kodama


The contemporary world is so technological that humans are located on the verge of life and non-life. Computers, cyborgs, artificial intelligence, and androids permeate human society, and people are even fascinated by such menaces of the non-life. This paper clarifies why contemporary society loves the idea of the rise of artificial beings by analyzing the use of artificial colors – black and pink – by the cutting-edge female artists Sachiko Kodama and Bridget Riley.

Media artist Kodama uses black liquid while the abstract artist Riley uses pink pigments as key materials. According to Asao Komachiya, black is the color of the blind; it appears on the verge of being and non-being. Meanwhile, Barbara Nemitz identifies pink as an artificial color that does not exist in the spectrum of sunlight. Both colors are highly evaluated in technological and consumer society and widely used on many goods. Kodama’s and Riley’s high reputation signifies that contemporary society likes the precarious artificial beings between life and non-life. Moreover, their original and unique works have realized the field of liberty as their extensive use of artificial colors black and pink indicates ultra-human.

Kodama’s and Riley’s gender is also key. As Dora Haraway suggests in “Cyborg Manifesto” (1991), contemporary women, historically dealt with as peripheral existences, survive as ultra-human beings rather than the ancient goddesses. By considering significant female artists such as Kodama and Riley, we can understand not only the contemporary aesthetics of visual arts, but also the concurrent yearning of contemporary society for liberty, ultra-humanity, and non-life.


Article received: April 17, 2019; Article accepted: June 23, 2019; Published online: September 15, 2019: Review article

Author Biography

Yukiko Kato

Yukiko Kato
Satiama University

Yukiko Kato is an Associate Professor at Saitama University, Saitama, Japan. She earned her M.A. in art history and aesthetics at Keio University, Tokyo, Japan in 2001, and her Ph.D. in Art History at Duke University, North Carolina in 2010. She has studied color theories and visual studies, including those of Neo-Impressionism in France in the 19th century, therapy movements in Japan in the 20th and the 21st centuries, and those of Bridget Riley and Sachiko Kodama. Kato’s published works in English among others are “Color, Hygiene, and Body Politics: French Neo-Impressionist Theories of Vision and Volition, 1870–1905” (Ph.D. dissertation 2010); “Cubism in Color: An Untold History” (Aesthetics 2011, 76–89); “Riley and Seurat: Japanesque, or on the Border of Life and Non-Life”, (Bridget Riley exhibition catalogue, the DIC Kawamura Memorial Museum, 2018, 152–158).


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How to Cite

Kato, Y. (2019). Between Life and Non-Life: Sachiko Kodama’s Black and Bridget Riley’s Pink. AM Journal of Art and Media Studies, (19), 109–115.