Page 32 - Studio International - July/August 1967
P. 32

The spectator handles objects, chooses where to go, takes
                                                                                his own decisions. The logical conclusion of this latter
                                                                                trend is the 'gaming room' of the GRAV group or the
                                                                                 `day in the street' organized on the 19th April, 1966, in
                                                                                 Paris; passers-by were invited to forget their usual pre-
                                                                                occupations and take part in a number of distractions
                                                                                 (bursting balloons, walking on springs etc.). The aim was
                                                                                 to obtain the active participation of men who are weary
                                                                                of urban society and to break for a moment the pattern
                                                                                of routine life. Half-way between these two trends, other
                                                                                artists such as the Zero group and the Group T at the
                                                                                 Eindhoven exhibition, prefer to offer unusual poetic
                                                                                Happenings in which the spectator is able to escape for a
                                                                                short while from the rhythm and tensions of everyday
                                                                                life. Finally a special type of environment on the indivi-
                                                                                 dual level is offered by Julio Le Parc in the shape of
                                                                                 `prepared' glasses which enable the wearer to see behind
                                                                                 him, while distorting, decomposing and colouring
                                                                                 reality. These glasses which transform the field of vision
                                                                                into a perpetually changing spectacle are—like the mir-
                                                                                rors mentioned earlier—advanced works which demon-
                                                                                strate the extent to which the very notion of the art-object
                                                                                has undergone transformation.
                                                                                  We have seen that the main current in contemporary
                                                                                 art since 1950 has been to throw doubt on the value of
                                                                                static art; in this context it is worth emphasizing the
                                                                                significance of a large number of experiments which have
                                                                                 been concerned with one of the essential aspects of modern
                                                                                life— the invisible. Several artists have based their work on
                                                                                 the awareness that many phenomena of our daily life,
                                                                                 e.g. electricity, atomic energy, sound waves, cannot be
                                                                                 perceived by the naked eye. In 1956 with cyst 1 Nicolas
                                                                                Schöffer conceived an independent, mobile sculpture,
                                                                                 the movements of which are controlled by an electronic
                                                                                 brain which is sensitive to variations in colour, light and
                                                                                sound. In 1959, Takis, who had been working since 1955
                                                                                on his moving Signals,  completed his first tele-magnetic
                                                                                sculpture inspired by the sight of a moving radar antenna
                                                                                on an airfield, and began to explore the many possibili-
                                                                                 ties offered by the electro-magnet (he was followed in
                                                                                 these experiments, albeit on a modified plane, by Len
                                                                                 Lye and Boriani). In a composition by Takis, interest
                                                                                does not centre on the material elements—plugs, spheres
                                                                                or nails—which constitute the visible structure of the
                                                                                work, but on the vacant spaces which separate these
                                                                                elements. He is interested in the secret tensions of nature—
                                                                                 tensions which are captured in these works with their
                                                                                vibrating magnetic currents.
                                                                                 At present Takis is completing in London a massive
                                                                                edition of one of his Signals, 5,000 copies of which are to
                                                                                be produced. This is yet another significant aspect of the
                                                                                fundamental change which art has recently undergone.
                                                                                Kinetic art accepts the multiplication of its compositions,
                                                                                provided that each individual copy is rendered different
                                                                                by movement (all the more so if the principle of trans-
                                                                                formation is inherent in the structure of the work). It is
                                                                                sufficient to place side by side two identical Vibrations by
                                                                                Soto or two continual mobiles by Le Parc to realize that
                                                                                either the different position of our gaze or the independent

                                                                                 Takis First multiple,  edition of 5000, made in England and due
                                                                                 to go on sale this autumn at a price of £10.
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