Admittedly I might be treading on old ground by referring to Richard Serra, James Turrell and in a photographic context, Hiroshi Sugimoto. However I do regard it relevant to see how the work, sculptural and photographic is sequenced. Having written about site-specificity regarding sculpture and its influence on my practice, I also have the books at hand to reflect on the layouts based on a new point of focus.
Since my work is not based of narrative, I think surveys and monographs are more relevant publications to explore. Monographs in general are not narratively sequenced, but more often divided into series.
In Geometry of Light (Turrell, 2009) there is a survey of Turrell’s various bodies of work. Most conclusively recorded are his Skyspaces. In each 4 page spread we see the artist authorised point of view of a piece of three dimensional art. The sequence begins with a copy of a technical drawing or sketch of the idea, authored by Turrell, this is contrasted with an architectural exterior image of the completed work. The process of making is present. In documentation terms, photography is offering the artist perspective of seeing an idea realised. The second set of images show a time-orientated image of the aperture to the sky. This is contrasted with an architectural detail of the interior space.
With interactive work and sculpture such as a Skyspace, it does not have a definitive image. The three dimensional object cannot be fully interpreted on a single two dimensional surface (Johnson, 1999). What I believe the aim of Turrell’s book to be is to present the reader that he has been able to deliver projects from inception to realisation more akin to an architectural portfolio.
In a further book on large scale work, Drawing (Serra, 2011), we see other uses of documentation that seek to enhance the reputation of the artist. The front cover introduces Richard Serra ‘in action’. Whether this was a candid image or staged, it doesn’t matter, the photograph achieves its goal of sharing the physicality of Serra’s work. For some it can show a sense of masculinity associated to the artist himself, and more generally speaking the labour intensive nature of the installation which Serra draws upon from being around industry in his youth. Much of Serra’s early work and indeed his most infamous piece, Tilted Arc are only existing in the world today through photography. Serra’s general reputation is optimised by his physical acts with industrial materials and this form of documentary again enhances the process of making.
Once we get into plates within the book, the layout is minimal and generic. Again collections and series are collated together, but most work is singularly represented in a 2 page spread, with an opposing empty page containing just the details of the work in small print. But here again photography is still the documentation method, the photograph of the artwork is the image reference to a real object in the world.
Finally Seascapes (Sugimoto, 2015) is a monograph covering 30 years of photographing the same image. While the subject and composition essentially remains consistent, he employs an element of psychogeography to his sequencing in order to make the reading of the book less time orientated. He achieves this by juxtaposing similarly exposed images across a 2 page spread. The titling informs the reader that a similar image has been recorded in another part of the world. So although the ‘where’ is not a directly important thing in the image itself, the knowledge of place appropriates an epic sense of scale to the pursuit. These collections within a broader body of work show how Sugimoto has kept the project interesting for himself, creating variations and themes to explore within a purposely limited viewpoint.
The two main influences that these publications have on my BoW are largely on the titling by Sugimoto, which for me relies heavily of time and location. And also a reflection point. To consider if part of my BoW should directly include the process of making or be regarded more as supporting evidence.
Johnson, G (1999) Sculpture and Photography: Envisioning the Third Dimension. UK: Cambridge University Press.
Serra, R (2011) Drawing. Houston: Menil.
Sugimoto, Hiroshi (2015) Seascapes. Bologna: Damiani.
Turrell, J (2009) Geometry of Light. Germany: Hate Cantz Verlag.