Home > Sculpture, Uncategorized, Video > Human Nature / Life Death Sculpture

Human Nature / Life Death Sculpture

January 13, 2011

                                 Human Nature / Life Death by Bruce Nauman from 1983

On display at the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago. This piece was from 1983 and was originally on display in the subway at State & Madison in Chicago at 1985. This work often will have a photograph in various books on contemporary art and recent art history. Here is some footage of the piece as it looks while active.

While editing the footage, I noticed that the outer circle changes direction from clockwise to counterclockwise.  I have seen this piece many times before, and somehow, that detail never sunk in before.

This is great to just stand in front of.  Often, people will view an artwork for a few seconds before moving to the next one; most people are used to rapid image consumption and maybe stay for three seconds in front of a work; it is common that people are not accustomed to active viewing for longer periods of time.  People that are from out of town or are infrequent museum visitors practically race to see as much as they can in during their visit.  Outside of that, going through a lot of images quickly is normal to us.  It amazes me to see how quickly people blast through the Impressionist gallery, maybe slowing down just enough to snap a cell phone photo before going on.  I’ve been filming them as they do it.

Human Nature / Life Death pulses to a rhythm, and somewhere between having electricity, words and ongoing change, the piece slows people down or brings them to a halt as they try to puzzle out meaning.  Watching people watch the art is fantastic.  It will hold a person up because they realize it is turned on.  I love me some Nauman neon any day; I found other clips of Nauman neon works in places around the world on YouTube.  This will always be my favorite because of its compact yet dynamic design.

Categories: Sculpture, Uncategorized, Video
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