The Black Quadrilateral: Protective Edge (2014)



4050 x 2810 px GIF, monotone with 3 colour palette.

The GIF is of a simple black quadrilateral, inspired by the very first black quadrilateral painted by suprematist Kazimir Malevich.

Malevich’s painting is from 1914, the start of World War I and is considered one of his earliest suprematist paintings. Recent X-ray analysis of the painting has revealed that Malevich painted the black quadrilateral over a previous sketch called ‘War’ of a horse with the words ‘Berlin’, ‘War’ and ‘Peace’.

“The Black Quadrilateral: Protective Edge” was made during “Operation Protective Edge”, the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict during which 2,200 people died. Hidden in the bytes of the image is encoded a photograph from the conflict, an IDF Artillery Corps tank, 155mm M-109 howitzer – the modern day equivalent of a war-horse – firing its gun. This image is only accessible via a binary hack to the file (reversing the colour palette – bytes 17, 18, 19).

Since its’ establishment in 1948, Israel has violated countless United Nations resolutions, Geneva Conventions and international laws including unlawful occupation of Palestinian territories, violations of human rights and discriminatory segregation and apartheid-style legislation by denying equal social and political rights to Israeli Arabs and Palestinians.

Despite this, western countries including most of Europe and the US not only continue to turn a blind eye to these, but politically and financially support and protect Israel.

Furthermore, mainstream media coverage of the events – particularly in the US (and of course within Israel) – is incredibly biased, hiding many of the facts and presenting a highly distorted, inaccurate reality, providing a protective layer through censorship.

Similarly, as both sides take to the digital domain – the internet, social media, youtube, twitter – the truth of what is happening is obscured behind the incredibly biased media of both sides.

Finally, Israel is further protected behind a veil of taboo and self-censorship, as criticism is linked to accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’ to those who try to expose truths or even ask questions.

Original photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

N.B. Before I explicitly stated that there was an image encoded in the black quadrilateral (but had hinted that it had a 3 colour palette while only 2 colours were visible), it was discovered in this twitter conversation by artist Kyle McDonald. An excerpt of the conversation is archived in this image.