Relational objects: Gesture as site and material in participatory sculpture
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In the relational and responsive artworks of artists like Lygia Clark, Kelly Dobson, Rebecca Horn, and Bruce Nauman gesture is both site and material. These artists use representations and enactions of gesture to focus attention, calibrate experience, and create relationships between viewer and object. Lygia Clark coined the term Relational Objects to describe a series of sculptures that use gesture to create intimate relationships which reframe the viewer’s conception of past experiences. This concept is central to my work. My work uses four techniques that reference gesture as a means of engaging the viewer: representation, enactment, interaction, and responsiveness. By prompting viewers to enact gestures my work bodily engages viewers in what Amy Cuddy and Carrie Noland characterize as emotional muscle memory. By calling attention to the sensory and evoking the viewer’s memories, I create unique relationships between my sculptures and viewers. I will introduce key concepts about gesture through a brief history of Lygia Clark’s work and a discussion of her Relational Objects. I will discuss gesture as a means of drawing attention, gesture’s ability to create a narrative relationship between experiences and our understanding of them, and gesture’s paradoxical nature as both a visceral expression of inner life and a public performance of sociability. I will discuss how abstracting these ideas about gesture informs the work I make as well as my methodology and algorithm for building work.