John Cage’s composition, Harmony III, served as a starting point to study negative and positive space. The juxtaposition between an opaque reflectivity and areas of transparency create personal moments of self reflection. Sudden transparency confuses our senses by revealing a previously unknown vulnerability. Perceived boundaries become inherently elusive as immediate surroundings fluctuate.
Following on from our group meeting yesterday, Chris and I went and experimented with the effects that could be achieved with lighting on the material, and aimed to document out experiences.
We discovered that what we believe to be the most interesting effect of the material is the sudden change between transparency and reflection and the interaction between people and this medium. The really exciting and surprising part of our experiments occured when our faces would line up and it would suddenly flick from my face to chris’s .
We tested sticking the adhesive directly onto the glass and discovered that it created alot of bubbles. It would be very difficult to get rid of the bubble. So our suggestion would be to either go with them ( they kind of look like water) or not adhere the film to the glass. The bubble create covex and concave reflections and you get multiple little versions of yourself, which is cool – if thats what we are going for.
We believe that the effect of the mirrored wall is enough to encourage close interaction, but we will definitely have t consider how to place the lighting mechanics so that it is not clumsy. Also there were discussions yesterday about placing the curtains for the gallery , between the pillars outside the gallery to control light and hide the toilets and exit from the reflection.
We hope you enjoy the videos and much as we do ! We had alot of fun playing with the effects!
Each student to list aspects of the installation proposals that require further study. Blog posts to be submitted as replies to this thread. The next step is to divide up the labor to perform these studies. This can either be done on the blog or by email.
In a lot of ways I’m interested in the EMOTIONAL RESPONSE to Flavin’s work; my own and others’. Much of the LIGHTING MECHANICS & FORM are clear to see; the sophistication is in his knowledge of how colors change when you eye adjusts, and when the colored lights blend of interact with each other, and then adjusting for desired results.
But I found his seeming abrasiveness in the Tuchman interview, compared with the Bell interview interesting. In the former he is bristling against the style of the questions, the content and possibly her. In the latter he seems more revealing, vulnerable even.
There were a few quotes that stood out from the readings for me, things that created more questions. Firstly in the Tuchman interview when he said essentially, answering questions without breaking them down was an “act of faith.” Interesting choice of words. In some ways I thought the Tuchman interview was more revealing because he was forced to describe in a different way, where as with Bell he could relax a little and respond in more of an insiders way.
When he says that, in terms of religious reference, that perhaps someones note that maybe he was more influenced by the subway system, is hitting the nail on the head more, was interesting. He admits the influence of many things, yet denies that much of architecture and city infrastructure was based or stemming from the architecture of the Greeks and Romans, temples=church. Maybe it’s a stretch on my part? I know why I’m drawn to this issue of his work. Perhaps because he was so adamant in denying it. I wonder, what was the significance of working in a former church in Milan was? Was there any? The article implies mindfulness of the buildings history, but I’m curious how that really translated for Flavin.
On the one hand he makes reference, even titles works in a “sentimental” way as he calls it, and then he says those things are “incidental.” I draw no real judgement about those things on his part, I’m just curious about them. I find that he has the suggestion of spirituality, but an intellectual rejection of if, in terms of his work and life. Noting the title of the piece The Nominal Three(to William Ockham)1963, who from what I understand, believed reality lies in the experience of things, abstract notions(god) rely on faith. Like a lot of art, up to a very recent time period, I often wonder how much the rejection of religious culture or upbringing, no matter how little, drives an artists work. Consciously or subconsciously. I refer specifically to conventional religious hierarchy, beliefs, rituals and architecture, not spirituality, which I personally think is very different from organized religion.
I’m still removed from this by not being able to write about something that I’ve just seen, in terms of OPTICAL & EMOTIONAL RESPONSE, it’s been a while since I went to see a Flavin piece.
Dan Flavin makes the comment in the Tiffany Bell interview, “…if I keep the fluorescent light media-mindedness, then that’s what’s really going on… It’s such a restrictive medium, as I’ve said before, that I’ve developed an appreciation for it. But then again, I may simply be lazy and conservative overall.” His work is so specific to the fluorescent source. He’s taking a very “everyday” lamp but using it with color or at specific diagonals to play with our perception and perspective in a space.
Color is a huge part of Flavin’s work. By juxtaposing pink and green or blue and yellow, he makes the opposite color appear more saturated. There are also pieces that work to mix 4 colors into a white (like at the Menil Collection), and other pieces that very carefully separate them into discreet spaces so that they seem to create volumes of color (like the corridors in Marfa).
Flavin seems to have a nonchalant attitude towards himself as an artist (see quote above). He works from his “history,” or as he calls it, his “residue.” (Tiffany Bell interview) When Phyllis Tuchman presses about if he had anticipated certain effects happening in his installations (like how the yellow and green would mix at the John Weber Gallery or how the colors would change at the Guggenheim depending on if you were inside or outside the alcove), Flavin replies as if he hadn’t, as if so much of it is incidental. I feel as if he operates on an intuitive level. He wants to work with the ordinary light bulb, which lends a module and a system to his work. (“Posthumously” article) He works well in this system, but he definitely doesn’t seem as precise and exacting as Robert Irwin in his execution or his attention to the evolution of his work or himself.
The colors and angles in Flavin’s work can cause some of his spaces to be dreamlike. I find the Marfa corridors especially overwhelming because they contain their color so well. They make for a very saturated environment who’s angles greatly contribute to heightening your awareness of being in a special place. This is not the case for all his work though – some of it is extremely “everyday” and is not trying to transport the viewer by any means.
Records and Representations
As he gets older, Flavin reports having less and less ambition to make drawings of his concepts. He doesn’t compile iterations. He says he is too “lazy” and “impatient.” The drawings in the “Posthumously” article show how simple his line drawings are as representations: there is no attempt to really render light, only the basic form of the sources and space.
The use of fluorescents, both in the form of light and the fixture itself in many cases to block space is characteristic of Flavin. In this regard his exploration of space is interesting in that it creates a feeling of irony by locating the fixtures so that they block the passage through architectural spaces, as he did in the Marfa, obligating the spectator to circulate around it to experience it.
The intentionality of his pieces have me puzzled in that he wants to keep them as simple as possible so as to distill the ideas, but leaves a lot of the results up to the qualities of the light itself. For instance, when he recognized “a degree of helplessness. The fixture that supports the tube has a fixed and rather severe aspect and appearance. This is one of those nice paradoxes, as nice a paradox as you can find anywhere. You have this unfocused source coming out of a well-defined instrument.”
I consider the empirical aspect of his work he most interesting, as he operates from experience he might be more akin to the viewer’s point of view.
I started out reading the following two chapters:
Ch. 14, The Desert & Ch. 20 Seeing is Savoring
I find comfort in knowing that an artist like Irwin does not feel compelled to share his experiences with the natural world (as in his desert trips) in the form of printed photographs that aim to represent said experience. It’s boggling to me that somehow it is conceivable a photo-mural in a gallery in nyc would be able to evoke a similar emotional or perceptual response as experiencing it for oneself. I think this relates to Ch. 20 where Irwin talks about the use of drugs and perception: they don’t heighten or brighten… all they do is override all the habitual inhibitions to clear seeing we manage to place in our way most of the rest of the time.
In cities we are so inundated with “better things to do” than see that only in a city would we find respite in spending a few moments in front of a scenic image. But on the one hand I am also intrigued by the idea that an installation can enable or compel others to put off the things to do and contemplate in how I operate on a physiological level as a human being. How do I see? Or how do I go about seeing more clearly the world in front of me?