Device: an exploration of interior and exterior space as an aspect of interactive sculpture

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Richard Eric Conn (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Marya Roland

Abstract: This thesis and accompanying exhibition is an investigation of the nature of observation and the importance of audience interaction and response when presented with a challenging art object. The objects or "devices" in this exhibit form a dichotomy of attraction and repulsion through the evocation of fear and curiosity. As aspects of this exploration the exhibit addresses the significance of the display space and how our awareness of interior and exterior defines viewer response and the observation processes. Through an examination of the protocol established by gallery convention I determine how to recontextualize the space to stimulate interaction with my work. This work also addresses the passive- active observation process and the relationship it has to both audience perception and the definition of a contained space. With references to the Fluxus movement and the work of artists Allan Kaprow, and Robert Morris, this thesis addresses art that requires active investigation and participation by the viewer in order for the work to be complete. Devices created for the exhibition challenge interaction and manipulate the observation process of the audience. These devices function as private interactive spaces dividing the gallery into interior and exterior spaces. Integrated into each device is a canvas enclosure that allows for only one participant at a time to experience the interaction. Within these cells or personal refuges the viewer is challenged by the nature of this restrictive/contemplative space and his or her relationship to it. My work relates to that of Gregor Schneider in his manipulation of the domestic space with the inclusion of the human form. I also find connections to my work in the works of Bruce Nauman and Arthur Ganson. The gallery space in conjunction with the devices divides active from passive viewers. Active viewers or participants access the interior of the devices and interact with the mechanisms that are hidden beneath the canvas enclosure. This same enclosure forms the interior space and creates the divide from the common space of the gallery. The active participant is also limited to observation of the interior of the space and to the events created by the mechanism, which he or she may operate. This mechanism is only visible to them. The exterior of the device and the explicit effect of its operation are visible only to the passive viewers. From the exterior, the passive viewer receives only information that passes through the shroud via sound, movement against the fabric or those elements that penetrate the fabric all together. The same shroud that masks the mechanism and creates the private display space hides the head of the active participant. As a result of this integration of participant and sculpture the active participant will appear as an inextricable part of the device to those viewing from outside. It is my intention that the viewer become aware of the container or space into which each event is occurring, the private space of each device and the container of the gallery space as a whole. Ultimately these devices become proxies for me. As a result they become representative of the vulnerable nature of my art making process. The fear and curiosity response by the viewer is reflected back by the object and is emblematic voyeuristic relationship between artist and viewer.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2010
Interactive, Kinetic, Sculpture
Audiences in art
Installations (Art) -- 21st century -- Exhibitions
Sculpture, Modern -- 21st century -- Exhibitions
Sculpture, American -- Exhibitions

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