Monday, 21 October 2013
Bruce Nauman - corridors
Bruce Nauman (born December 6, 1941) is a contemporary American artist. His practice spans a broad range of media including sculpture, photography, neon, video, drawing, printmaking, and performance. Nauman lives near Galisteo, New Mexico.
Walk with Contrapposto, 1968
Quite possibly the most mind altering piece of installation art work ever?
You walk down a set of corridors, at the end of each of these are monitors, some of which you see yourself in from different angles.
It is extremely confusing to see the back of yourself walking in front of you and something you are unlikely to have experienced before.
My first experience of these in Liverpool, England, some years ago was quite unexpected and for a few moments my brain couldn’t cope with the fact that I was seeing myself, so I was delighted to take my friend to see them whilst in Berlin, 2010.
Live Taped Video Corridor, 1970
One of his very early works is "Live taped Video corridor". This particular installation consists of a narrow corridor. There are two monitors stationed at the end of this corridor, one on top of another. There is a camera fixed at the entrance of this corridor which is connected to one of the monitors, whereas the other monitor shows a pre-recorded image of the corridor. Thus, when a person moves along the corridor towards the monitors, he gets further away from the camera. Its almost like he's walking away from himself. The narrow corridor creates a confined environment enhancing the focus on the monitors.
Live-Taped Video Corridor, 1970.
Performance Corridor imposed certain physical limits on its audience, but Nauman nevertheless recalled feeling some frustration at not being able to more fully "control the situation." In subsequent corridors, he developed a number of devices to accomplish just this, from mirrors and intense, colored fluorescent light (see, for example, Green Light Corridor, made in 1970) to the closed-circuit video technology of contemporary surveillance systems. Related to part of a multi-corridor installation that Nauman constructed earlier in 1970 at the Nicholas Wilder Gallery in Los Angeles, Live-Taped Video Corridor features two stacked television monitors at its far end, both linked to a camera mounted at the corridor's entrance: the top monitor plays live feed from the camera, while the bottom monitor plays pretaped footage of the empty passageway from the identical angle. Walking down the corridor, one views oneself from behind in the top monitor, diminishing in size as one gets closer to it. The camera's wide-angle lens heightens one's disorientation by making the rate of one's movement appear somewhat sped up. Meanwhile, the participant is entirely, and uncannily, absent from the lower monitor. The overall result is an unsettling self-conscious experience of doubling and displacement.
Corridor with Mirror and White Lights, 1971
By setting up an uncomfortable situation, a piece like Performance Corridor works to debase the equating of the idealized “good”, “beautiful”, and “true”, a notion on which western philosophy and consequently aesthetics is based. In discussing the inspiration for Performance Corridor, Nauman mentions the peculiar reaction common to people in tight spaces: an uncomfortable sensation produced by a heightened awareness of the body. The reduced ability to evade others when restrained by such a space leads to further discomfort. Both effects reveal a basic human desire to remain self-contained, unaware of our being subjected to outside forces, as well as our freedom to move and act despite this being subjected. As a result, Nauman’s strategy can be described as ethical, and the ethics it promotes is one of use. The meaning, and therefore use of the piece, is an experience that calls the viewer to question not only aesthetic values, but the epistemological assumptions and tendencies of life in general. The tendency to judge an art work by pleasure-based criteria is exposed and consequently debased, and the viewer is left to judge the piece having gained this awareness in addition to a more generalized awareness of subjectivity and agency.
Corridor Installation (Nick Wilder Installation), 1970
I sidle down an ever-narrowing corridor towards an open doorway and slip into an empty white room. Except it is not quite white, but lit by harsh, pale green striplights. The light fills the empty parallelogram of the room with an unpleasant sickly pallor. I stare at my hands and they look suddenly horrible, mottled and half-dead. Goodness knows what it does to my face. It feels like an antechamber to a morgue in here, which I guess is the point. I feel exposed. Nakedness in here would not be appealing. All that effort to get there, and now all that's left is to leave, edging out as quick as I can through another narrow exit.
What draws me to Nauman? Something more than masochism, an attraction to discomfiture: there's nothing like a feeling of futility to get the juices going. His art can be brutal, beautiful, aggressive and arresting, and it is always surprising and rich.