Blan/ck Screens: Chroma Screens Performing Race

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Charu Maithani


Chroma screens is a term for the green and blue screens used in filmmaking, television, and graphics during image making for the compositing of other images in post-production. Engaging an agential realist framework to deliberate on this mode of screens wherein they are without images, I consider chroma screens in and through material-discursive practices to argue that the green and blue colors of chroma screens can be considered a cultural enactment of racialized media practices. I take the image blankness of chroma screens as the condition for a performance of blackness/race. An analysis of Sondra Perry’s work, Graft and Ash for a Three-Monitor Workstation (2016), opens onto how racial practices and concepts around blackness have functioned in the very blankness of chroma screens. The blan/ckness relationship in Perry’s work is leveraged to become generative of a differencing, a performance that not only sustains blackness, a difference in color, but recognizes and animates it in constructive ways. In this paper I show that neither blackness nor whiteness are pre-given but are caught up with a powerful imaging and medial technique, co-constituted in, with, and through chroma screens.

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