Opto Kineticism and The New Tendency. Part I: The Schoffer Effect

Before we jump into “internet” or “art.net” this Thursday, I wanted to take a second look at the effects of the  New Tendency and “Opto Kineticism” movements that were presented in class. These artistic developments were important precedents in electronic art. They also seemed to have imparted particular visual and aesthetic qualities onto some of their electronic and digital art descendants. Furthermore, and more importantly, like Minimalism, these artistic developments forced the artistic object (or the created environment) to engage the viewer. Significantly, this “relationship” between the object/environment and the viewer continued into the digital era.  As Susan Ryan stated, Vasarely “postulated that visual kinetics (plastique cinetique) relied on the perception of the viewer who is considered the sole creator.”

As referenced in class, Nicolas Schoffer was considered the founder of cybernetics. There’s a great pic in the lecture, but here’s a video of a variation of Schoffer’s Chronos, Chronos 5, in motion:

However, I am disappointed with this particular exhibition’s display. Note how the horrid cord “barricade” interrupted your/the viewer’s spatial relationship with the piece. Likewise, the work is shoved in a corner, so the full 360 spatial effect of the moving lights is diminished.

Here is a better display of a very similar work that engages the viewer by dynamically lighting their shared space: Julio Le Parc (Argentinian), “Light in Movement,” 1962.

This static documentary image still shows how this piece effectively engages a viewer, by structuring the space that it and the viewer both inhabit (in this instance with light) and by heightening the awareness of this relationship (through the mirrors).

You can also see a video of some of Le Parc’s works in motion. These works share Schoffer’s aesthetic (especially the work shown between around minutes 5:10 and 7:00).

Interestingly, Le Parc is Argentinian.  As Susan noted this type of art seemed to be panned by American critics but took root elsewhere, like in South America.

For reference: There is a good link from the class lecture that covers background info on Schoffer.

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