year show all projects

Bruce Nauman : Studies for Holograms, 1970

image from Bruce Nauman : Studies for Holograms, 1970

specific object / david platzker


Bruce Nauman : Studies for Holograms, 1970

March 24 - May 16, 2008

Specific Object / David Platzker is pleased to announce the opening of the exhibition Bruce Nauman : Studies for Holograms, 1970. The exhibition will be on view at Specific Object from March 24 - May 16, 2008.

Published in 1970 by Castelli Graphics, Nauman's Studies for Holograms is a portfolio of five screenprints printed in two colors. The series reflects activities begun by Nauman in 1968 within his work First Hologram Series : Making Faces (A-K) [see #108 in Joan Simon, Bruce Nauman : Catalogue Raisonné, Walker Art Center, 1994] a sequence of eleven holographic images on glass, as well as the 16mm films Pinch Neck, 1968 [Simon #119] and Pulling Mouth, 1969 [Simon #152], and the ten holographic works titled Second Hologram Series : Fully Figure Poses (A-J), 1969 [Simon #155].

Each of the five elements feature close-cropped images of Nauman's face framed by bridge of his nose to his Adam's apple by the width of his face. Within this frame Nauman, using his fingers, pinches his lips; pulls his lower lip; pinches his cheeks, pulls his neck; and pulls his lips. The prints, which are printed in black and a DayGlo yellow-green, through the optical play of these colors mimic a holographic feel without the use of the actual mid-century utopian technology.

In reviewing Nauman's 1971 exhibition at Castelli Gallery for Artforum (April 1971) critic Kenneth Baker wrote the following:

"None of the art that I've seen that purports to deal with 'information' has really seemed to answer the question as to the meaning of this term in reference to experience. Yet this would seem to be an important question because 'information' already appears to be wavering between being a concept and being something vaguely experienced; and the reification of information which contemporary technology is bringing about clothes the notion with certain assumptions about the nature of the perceiving subject, most dangerously, perhaps, that the perceiver's own nature is not or should not be an issue for him. So much of the information presented in or as conceptual art is so remote from information in the strong sense, the sense of it which is necessary ultimately to distinguish between useful and superfluous or stupid utterances, that it often amounts to little more than a pun on 'abstraction.' The esthetic uses of the concept of information up to now have mostly looked like attempts to maintain a kind of abstraction in attitude while playing at immersion in certain kinds of concrete and commonplace subject matter, such as the referents of the statistics found in so much conceptualism. The troubling aspect of all this is perhaps the disengagement of information as a concept from speech, and thus from the kinds of justification which spoken and written utterances are subject to and which frequently determine their value. And though not many people seem to have noticed, the embrace of 'information' deepens the difficulties into which recent art has cast criticism for all that this move appears to some people to let the critic off the hook."

"At times Bruce Nauman has seemed to have hold of these issues. His holograms, for instance, could easily be seen as being about the experience of information because the most intelligible explanation of what is seen in a hologram is given in terms of information. A hologram works, if I remember correctly, because all the phase information necessary for one to see a three-dimensional object can be concentrated in a light beam of a single wave-length, a laser, and projected to produce a 3D image. Though the technical explanation is much more detailed and elegant, no doubt, than that, it is not likely to come any closer to what we feel ourselves to be experiencing when we see a hologram; it seems that the only way around it is to say that the informational description does get at what we experience, or that this is a brand of experience to which a certain favored kind of language is denied access. Perhaps this is why Nauman chose to do facial contortions as holograms, both because we have an immediate sense of what it would feel like to distort one's face in those ways, and so that we feel somewhat mocked by having faces made at us through a medium which is not merely impersonal but completely absurd in relation to our understanding of experience."

"In an environment defined by 'information,' the perceiver is in a real sense without a knowledge of where he is unless he has been trained to perceive information as definitive of his situation, and this is imaginable, I suppose. But it is that sort of dissociation of the perceiver from the terms of perception that a lot of Nauman's recent work has been about, and which plays some part in his latest show at Castelli. In what I consider his most interesting pieces; Nauman steps outside the already familiar esthetic strategy of shifting frame of reference; the really challenging works have been devised so as to occur within the spectator's body-image, which is, so to speak, on the hither side of frames of reference. Arranging things so that the body-image is the arena of esthetic events might have grotesque consequences, as proven by a lot of so-called 'body art'; and in the context of Nauman's work, a sensory disorder such as allochiria [a neurological disorder in which stimuli presented to one side of the patient's body are responded to as if they were presented to the opposite side], if it could be induced temporarily, might have the status of an esthetic accomplishment. (These considerations might also raise a sort of moral question as to what is implied by treating Nauman's kind of work as art.) But meanwhile this circumstance allows Nauman to set up some interesting channels between private and public experience, and one senses that this exchange between private and public which has been going on in the public media for years is closely linked to the whole muddle about the nature of what is called information ..."

Retrospectively these prints exemplify radical changes within the artworld in the late 1960s and early 1970s that point towards the soon to develop hyper-narcissistic use of the artist's own body within the emerging technology of video.

The exhibition at Specific Object will present the complete series of five Study for Hologram prints along with an untitled precursor print published in 1969 as well as related ephemera. Prices available upon request.

Specific Object's hours are Monday - Friday 11 AM to 5 PM, or by appointment.

This press relese is archived at:

A PDF of the complete exhibition checklist is available at

Specific Object is located at 601 West 26th Street / Floor 2M / Room M285, New York, New York 10001.
Telephone (212) 242-6253.

Specific Object's website is

For additional information regarding the exhibition or Specific Object please email David Platzker at