This painting is not available in your country, paint error

This painting is not available in your country

“This painting is not available in your country” is a spartan acrylic on canvas. The title immediately conjures the question of “regional lockout”, a business strategy which prevents the reproduction, from one country to another, of a media designed for a device marketed in both countries. The unsettling effect of a painting made just by white words on a deep black canvas seems borrowed from the canons of conceptual art. However, the reflection generated in this case exceeds the disorientation given by semiotic relation between word, image and representation. The words chosen by Mutant Paul, author of the work, are referring to an instance that is perceived as an action, rather than as representation. In front of a similar sentence on a computer screen or on a TV, anyone instinctively seeks out alternative solutions to free the encrypted content. The open source code DeCSS, for example, is a popular program that can decipher the contents of the DVD regardless of regional lockout. Against the obstruction of its propagation, given by section 1201 (a) (2) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, this code was published in various forms, including physical (from stenography to printing on t-shirts) and digital (as MIDI files or as haiku poetry). However in front of this painting, there isn’t any opportunity for action. The representation here is a (conceptual) process. The phrase “is not available in your country” shifted from the screen to the canvas generates a disturbing idiosyncrasy. But the unpleasant feeling of helplessness is dampened by the irony: a material painting, strongly protected from reproducibility, paradoxically embodies the impossibility of seeing a digital image, imprisoned in the bonds of digital software.

Chiara Ciociola