Elizabeth Johnson – The Touch of Light: Bruce Nauman’s Holograms

An image of a man bathed in green light

6 February 2018, 6:00-7:30pm

Keynes Library (room 114),

Birkbeck, University of London, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD

No booking required

In 1968, less than a year after it first became possible to produce holograms of people, Bruce Nauman began to work on two series of holographic self-portraits. Nauman made these luminous, intangible, three-dimensional images of his body during a period in art’s history that is closely associated with the notion of dematerialisation. This paper uses Nauman’s holograms to interrogate the significance of materiality and tangibility in Anglo-American sculptural aesthetics at the end of the 1960s.

Although the holograms can be aligned with the apparent move towards the dematerialisation of the sculptural object, this paper shows how their subsequent reception has been shaped by their particular materiality. Ultimately, it argues that Nauman’s holograms hold in suspension a commitment to both the values of modern sculpture and a negation of sculptural corporeality.