You’re not trying to create any kind of atmosphere.
No. I may be trying to push out a lot of distracting things and to come down to a very limited situation, where there are very little things which the eye encounters. In this way the eye begins to understand its way of encountering vision, of encountering space.
Does it have anything to do with minimalism?
In a way, yes, but minimalism is much more conceptual. It has to do with minimalism in the sense of reducing situations to make them more transparent, but minimalism always worked on a geometrical or logical outline or ground plan.
I think that there is something very definite that you are doing but I don’t know how to verbalize it
It doesn’t lend itself to description, because what I’m trying to do is give something which is as plainly visible as lines, but point to the ambiguity in it. Obviously it is very easy to understand what has happened and at the same time there is something that you never quite resolve. I am trying to work in this tension, a tension that is being defined in the drawing every time, so I don’t think that a language, so far, exists for me to describe or categorize this.
But what you just said explained it very well.
But you don’t create the experience during the explanation.
So the experience comes through the actual making of it.
Right, and through the actual viewing of it. It’s something that is constantly happening again. Once you walk out of the gallery, you can’t really say what it has been.
And what do you want the audience to experience?
I want them to be held in this tension, and this ambiguity.
Are you concerned with how the audience responds?
I’m not trying to trigger a particular experience. The space has certain factors, and whoever wishes to experience it can go inside and just study the work. I’m not on a crusade of any kind. In a way, a gallery like this, where the walls are very directly lit, is not exactly what I would have wished for. I would have liked the walls to be more indirectly lit, for the whole thing to have happened much more inadvertently.
Yes, but not in the sense that I am being imprecise.
Is it because the gallery lighting says, “Look at this”?
Right, right, exactly. I like daylight anyhow, because one of the things I am working with is graphite on the wall. One of the things that most captures color that is just floating through space—colorful clothes, whatever—is a white wall with graphite marks on it. It is a kind of net that can catch different elements coming in. What I create is a situation which will capture whatever color is floating through the room, and this of course doesn’t happen with this lighting.
And all of this is graphite.
Yes, it is actually pencil. I go to the office supply shop next door and buy it from them.
Very soft pencils?
Not actually, but that depends very much on the wall. I can never tell beforehand. In this case it has been rather hard pencils because there is a funny coating on the wall. If I am preparing the wall myself I usually use pure lime, which again captures most of the daylight. But that’s okay if it’s different; being site specific involves also having different situations.
Have you ever done that same kind of thing three dimensionally? I can imagine a black ribbon that same sort of width.
It would never happen because the surface of the wall and the bands are identical—they’re the very same thing. I am going to the surface and I am conditioning the space in between the walls. The very flatness of it, which in a way is imposed by the illusion of this thing being three dimensional, of this being a tube, is one part of triggering this ambiguity. So I wouldn’t put it in three dimensions. And one very nice thing about the Nexus space is that you have these three dimensional pipes going bang into the wall and encountering the lines.
Yes, I saw that too. I was there for maybe a half an hour alone in that space. It gave me a chance to pay attention. You use the word ambiguity a lot…
Yes, and perhaps for the lack of language, though. If I was to say it in German, I would say maybe three or four different things that hint at different aspects of ambiguity.
How can you find a way to express what you really mean by ambiguity?
Well, I mean when one thing has two qualities that actually are contradictory—seeing them as three dimensional, as an actual structure, with the wall becoming an open space between. At the same time, the very same wall gives you the information that these are just lines put on a flat surface. The wall acquires a quality of three dimensions and a quality of flatness and they obviously are contradictory. Those qualities could not logically exist together, but they do for your vision. It’s not a trick so much as trying to work on the way we look…
It’s sort of an optical illusion.
Sort of—it’s making something that is saying two things at the same time. And through this, making people listen much more carefully…
Well, look more carefully, listen more carefully to what the eye says.
Do you think that the work has a sound?
If it did. It would have a kind of continuous sound.
Yes, but not droning in a remote way. It would just be the presence of sound.