Sunday, March 04, 2007

Time and Sculpture

Sorry this is a little bit late, I was having difficulty with the whole google account thing!

Our visit to Berkeley Art Museum allowed me to experience a number of artistic encounters I had not yet before. Bruce Nauman’s gallery was filled numerous works, all of varying mediums. From the fiberglass castings, reenactments of performances on video, to light and sound installations, his collection of work was wholly unfamiliar to me in comparison to my previous experiences with art. As such, trying to fully understand the artworks seemed a daunting task, let alone connecting the works to ideas from the class. However in my consideration of the gallery as a whole, I began to see that in a few circumstances Nauman had managed to integrate time as a piece of the artwork, a sort of fourth dimension, as discussed in the Time Machine.
Classical sculpture is generally static and unchanging in its nature, it is meant to deny the effects of passing time and remain eternalized in its original state. Nauman chooses to reject this idea in some of his pieces. For example in his film “Manipulating the T-Bar”, Nauman’s motion and physical act of moving the bar is a characteristic of the sculpture itself. The sculpture is encapsulated in this sixty-minute period of time; you cannot remove it from this window in time. In this way he adds this fourth dimension to sculpture to remind the viewer that there is a process involved in the making of art, and though you cannot always see this timely process (except in films such as this) the time remains an inherent quality of art.
Similarly Nauman’s “Untitled 1965-66”, a brown latex piece situated in the corner of the gallery as if a simple heap of cloth, proves vulnerable to the passing of time. The shape of the object, a ragged pile of cloth, suggests to the viewer that it was once a particular shape, but over time has wilted and collapsed. Furthermore the latex medium will overtime actually begin to change and partially disintegrate. These qualities suggest that the sculpture in fact has a life of its own, and that the viewer is seeing the piece at a specific point in its existence, and that it is ever changing, no matter how slowly.
Nauman’s style of art may not be my favorite. I may not even really understand it to the extent that I feel I do. But I do appreciate the integration of time as a very real characteristic of his art, and the concepts that he infuses into his work in order to keep the viewer constantly thinking.



Blogger Nehal N said...

I agree that Nauman clearly integrates the use of time into art, especially in a time where art changed from its classical three dimensional or two dimensional frame of work. Although I, too, am not a huge fan of his unusual and excessively modern art, his principles of using the entire frame of the area and time is intriguing. Beyond looking at the videos he created, such as manipulations of the t-bar, his fiberglass creations that integrated the wall, however odd and seemingly inartistic, shows how time and the viewer is integrated into his ideal of a masterpiece.

3/05/2007 12:33 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

It's strange that he chose to interpret sculpture as more of a performance piece (using his own body in the process) but also chose to film the performance. Doing so turns the three-dimensional sculpture into a two-dimensional projection - I wonder if it can still be called sculpture then? I did also like the way he set up the latex piece to disintegrate over time, though - it's interesting to see exhibits that don't try to preserve their specimens perfectly.

3/05/2007 8:14 AM  
Blogger Sean Carr said...

Interesting observation. I wonder if Nauman was doing this solely to rebel against the standard sculpture of permanence that defies time or if he was just fascinated with time as an area of exploration. A lot of the works in the gallery left me wondering how much the standard explanation given by the tour guide really represented Nauman's own motivations for his art. To me some of the pieces seemed to be mocking or even criticizing the very analysis that was being applied to them.

3/05/2007 11:17 AM  

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