This is an attempt at grasping a theme that‘s probably more wide and endless both thematically and literally than anything else. To talk about such an abstract topic like space and put it into words – language in contrast is a rather concrete medium – by all means is a difficult and complex task. Space can basically mean everything that‘s not directly depictable as the material. A constitution of different elements – sound, movement, light and the body, the interaction between subject and object. Air, a smell, a gap in a wall, a thought, the impalpable, the virtually immaterial, the void, emptiness, the vast entity, the unseen, the camouflaged, the external. The list is endless as the topic itself. Everything that‘s around us, the environment, the vague idea of what‘s around the next corner or what has been there seven years ago, the sewerage underneath the street I walk, the street itself, the organisation of objects and their position and the way subjects move within, their exchange, interactions and movements. This is all directly related to how we perceive space.

maurice merleau-ponty

[perception does not give me truths like geometry but presences]

cloud-like spaces

Sight is mostly structuring space in relation to the physicalness, the line of sight always meets the object in its own place. Hearing sound however is always a direct physical contact where soundwaves are travelling to our ear. The sense of hearing cannot be controlled actively like sight, the participation is not voluntary opposed to the act of seeing, we are forced into it. We cannot switch between hearing different objects as easily as with the direction of our gaze. Sight is a fragmentation articulated by our gaze while hearing bases upon the simultaneity of the occurring events. Sound is encasing us from different directions, the perception of the three-dimensional space is more direct than with sight. Furthermore, sounds have the quality to fill a whole room, on the other hand, the information we receive from our gaze, all the different elements, can only be assembled to a whole on a second level. The perception of sound as well as smell or the sense for heat and cold can only notice changes of state whereas sight structures the field of vision in it's tactility. The aural perception opens up cloud-like spaces which are highly moment-specific and ephemeral.

listening and sound

Max Neuhaus is an essential artist when it comes to spatial experience and practice from the angle of listening and sound. Being the first to shape the term 'sound installation' he was investigating the relationship between place, moment and sound and how this relationship and interaction shapes the resulting space, from an early stage of his career. Building sound works that enhance the aural perception of our environment by a simple shift of focus he puts his attention into creating spaces that are highy moment-specific and can only be experienced in-situ. In his writings he talks about the 'imaginary place or moment' he wants to achieve. 'I am building a sound to bring this imaginary place or moment of mine alive. I see these works not as definers of a single frame of mind for all individuals, but as catalysts for shifts in frame of mind. I am not concerned with a specific individual's frame of mind.' He distinguishes between moment and place pieces. 'The moment pieces don't construct places, but they cause this realization of place to happen when they disappear; in the same way that the place pieces do not construct time, but they allow your own realization of time to happen within their static nature.'

space observation #1

The space under the bridge exists both as a real space and as by acoustic information articulated imaginary space, an acoustic think-sculpture. The border of the real space is defined by architectonical elements – two massive with limestone constructed piers to the left and right, the steel construction above and the asphalt on the ground. The lateral boundary in the front and behind is defined by the width of the bridge, but diffuse, frayed and relative to the perspective of the observing person. Despite the diffuse lateral boundary the space is mathematically measurable and defined in three dimensions. According to date and time the space is rarely or highfrequrently cut by moving bodies. Cars, bicycles, trucks or even birds leave marks. The space is illuminated by lights at night and darkened by daylight, whereat size and color of the body define different levels of light absorption. If I enter the pedestrian tunnel which leads through the last pier the space under the bridge solely exists in my imagination – more or less detailed depending on how precise my observations have been. 

space observation #2

The square is the end of the alignment of the buildings enclosing the four streets coming together. The crossing gives space to a fairly open field where traffic and pedestrians interlace. A kiosk, a café, a restaurant and a hotel bring life to the square. That life mainly takes place in the horizontal plane. It's first of all a two-dimensonal field where bodies mark their way in space and time. Every one of them draws a line on the ground by going through that plane. Traffic lights, lamp poles, the buildings and the bodies themselves mark a third dimension in the vertical. There are several references to other fixpoints in the city. Traffic signs show the way to far and near places. The trams and busses make references to where they go and the numbers on them tell me where they come from. Information on cars, like the license tag or the name of a company, give indices to certain other spaces. The sidewalks, the tramrails and the road markings are dividing the square into countless smaller spaces. The shadow of the insurance building moves slowly with the sun and the diagonal border margins a body reaching from the top of the building down to the street. 

gedankensprung - anselm stalder

Two works of Anselm Stalder's as if series are relevant to me in the context of this text because of the complex system of physical and conceptual spatiality they comprise. As if a single word could center notion (as if 010) and As if a body could balance a thought (as if 013) are connected in a single object for his solo exhibition Glimmende Peripherie in the Kunstmuseum Solothurn. At first sight its an object made of MDF, glass and fotofilterfilm enclosing a painting. The geometrical shape of a trapezoid is repeated in every material, arranged around the question of center and balance, as the title suggests. The painting shows the snapped lettering Gedankensprung, a mental leap or jump, enclosed by two glass plates. As with the rest of the as if series the title is the beginning of an examination of a thought. 'As a group they constitute a methodical attempt on the part of the artist (which only came to him as he worked) to allow himself to be guided in his pictorial invention by language, that is to say, by the specfic formulation and the impetus of the phrase as if.' (Glimmende Peripherie, p. 121) This methodical attempt instantly tears us away from the actual object and the real space into a space of language and reflection and thus into the artists mind. 


Gordon Matta-Clark's oevre has many different facets which all to grasp certainly expands the limit of this text. What's interesting for me in the context of spatial understanding is his approach in making highly material works with the strategy of not building anything. His spatial claim is in extending real environmental situations into something that's more accessible for people than the conventional gallery exhibition space. Rather than a political statement or institutional critique this must be seen as a motivation that came from an intensive examination of formal demands he was engaged with. In one of his early works he's cutting rectangular pieces out of abandoned buildings and brings them to the gallery space. The experience he evokes at the original position in the buildings is exactly the opposite than the one in the gallery. Leaving the void behind and an insight into the structure of the building versus contextualising a piece of a house in the gallery as an objectification of the notion of a cut. Later the void, the in-between and the non-indicated space became much more important than the detached piece.

elisabeth grosz

[The outside is a peculiar place, both paradoxical and perverse. It is paradoxical insofar as it can only ever make sense, have a place, in reference to what it is not and can never be—an inside, a within, an interior.]


Only geometrical space can be viewed in a rational and prosaic way. We capture all the elements of a given space by their relation to each other and their distance, their appearance and the size of the space they take up. We can agree on several qualities a space might have, if it is big or small, if we feel free or constricted within. But as soon as human interaction starts to overlap with the geometrical space, it‘s no longer possible to talk about it in a objective way that might be true for everyone. Perceptional information doesn‘t lead to true facts but presence, as I quoted Merleau-Ponty. But how does this presence look like in a spatial context?


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fixed arena

Relativistic understanding of space comes closer to what I investigate in this work. Space is derived from the disposition of bodies and the relation to each other. As the physical extension of the body takes up space itself, relativistic space is unthinkable as a dualism of space and body, they‘re inseparably related. The consequence of those relations form an understanding which gives room to analyse human action and the interaction between body and space. Because those bodies are in constant movement space is consequently integrated in a permanent process of change. Thus, spaces don't exist independently from bodies, they're always a result of a process of alignment. 'Before 1915, space and time were thought of as a fixed arena in which events took place, but which was not affected by what happened in it. […] The situation, however, is quite different in the general theory of relativity. Space and time are now dynamic quantities.' (Hawking 1988, p. 33) Human action is now strongly affecting how said arena is percieved and as a result space is produced by our movements and interactions.

interplay of space and acoustics

Space and sound are inseparably interweaved. While we realise that sound is formed by the architectonical environment, that sounds get spatial information through reverberation and echo most people often miss that sound in contrast makes the space itself audible. If we focus and listen precisely we can hear the characteristics that certain spaces transmit. A church doesn't sound like an open field and we can hear the narrow streets articulated by the sound of the cars, which doesn't sound at all like when we drive them on a highway. If we focus on aural architecture, a concept formulated by Barry Blessner and Linda-Ruth Salter, we instantly hear that spaces trasmit feelings and emotions that we don't receive by seeing only: e.g. intimacy, anxiety, isolation, freedom or insecurity. From our own perspective, an environment we move within is a complex sequence of several sensous experiences and cannot be grasped by the domination of one sense only. Or in other words, whatever we focus on, be it visual, tactile, aural or olfactory (gustation is left out as we usually don't lick the walls to get spatial information) characteristics, we perceive the space differently.

space observation #1..

The few pedestrians who choose their way through the tunnel pass by quickly. None of them is noticing the space around them, most are lost in thoughts or look at their smartphone. This is part of my spatial perception just as the haptic nature of the walls, the smell or the light irradiation. But what really makes this space peculiar are the sounds which connect the tunnel and the space under the bridge and thus abstract the real space in its given appearance and stylize a mental space. I‘m standing at the lower entry of the tunnel. There‘s agile traffic, rarely a moment where no car rushes past or at least isn‘t noticeable from a distance. The tram on the bridge articulates the space both with its sound and its vibration, scarcely perceivable in a timid tremble of the asphalt. I observe the space, try to capture it as an outsider to familiarize myself with its outer appearances. I listen and notice the noise of the nearing cars from the lower old town in direct sound. 

space observation #2..

What is significant to others might be of absolutely no interest to me. I don't have acces to the world of people around me and so don't they to my own. By simply watching them I see how they create spaces I notice as being an outsider. The man who walks into the kiosk connects the space of the sidewalk with the small store, buys some cigarettes and walks out again. He alters my understanding of that little store and fills it with content, with a story and thereby structures the space in time. The space in his lungs is now connected with the air around him as he lights the cigarette. The smoke forms a visible space that diffuses into the ambient air in seconds. He waits at the traffic light standing in a group of people which encloses a spatial body between the facade of the building and the two poles. He crosses the streets and disappears from my vision when he walks around the corner. This simple observation of an action of a man who walks by includes a dozen of spatial observations I'm engaged in. It can be a space embodied by subjects walking in the street, a connection that defines the relation of multiple bodies, each with different gestures and direction of movement. The formed shape can be quite simple but the way it diversifies is a complex system of interactions and exchanges and highly ephemeral.

impossibility of finding balance

In the object itself we find a confrontation of two different notions. The formulation of both titles, as with all of the works in the as if series, is the actual creation of the work and in this case lies 8 years apart (2004/2012). One seems to be a continuation of the other, a reflection about it and embodied in wooden base. The shifted glass plates and the reversed placement of the painting punctuate this tension of finding center and balance. The shift doubles the amount of corners, alters the material peculiarity of the glass in the areas we can now see through and thus creates a new space and interaction between the two works. As if a body could balance a thought is open on one side underlining the impossibility of finding balance. The formulation in the subjunctive opens up the space of possibilities, depicted indirectly and without warranty, pesented as one of endless possibilites. It could also be read as a human being with the body and the mind, the impossibility of finding balance for our constantly leaping thoughts, what Stalder calls the 'in-head running noise'.

the appearing/disappearing image/object

In the context of the 1960s conceptualist principle of dematerialization, Asher's work ceased to exist in any material form at the end of every exhibition. His 'airworks' are a good example of how he used intangible material to structure space. Inspired by observations of the natural airflow in his appartment where the air was 'condensed and accelerated in corridorlike zones' he started to experiment with agitating air in his garage. With the use of industrial airblowers he divided the space with 'linear, ambient and planar bodies of air' (Asher, p. 5) creating an inner structure of the otherwise empty space.

'In the Newport Harbor installation, a planar body of air was located just inside the main passageway to the inner gallery of the museum. The pressured air extended across the entranceway so that visitors encountered it on entering or leaving the museum. At point of origin the plane was 3 feet wide (parallel to the doorway) and 3 feet 3/8 inches thick, and dispersed gradually in both dimensions until it reached the floor and spread into ambient air.' (Asher, p. 6) 'The airflows were defining a territory in which a resultant interiority is felt by the body's sensory reception of the moving air.'


If we leave the container-like model behind, which is of course the starting point of every spatial observation, then space is always the product of a highly subjective engagement with concrete situations we deal with in everyday life. Mundane spatial perception is not a directional process and can therefore neither be controlled nor reproduced. It is highly moment-specific and ephemeral, our examination of a certain space depends as much on our current state of mind as well as on external triggers of interest. Our individual conception of space is based both on experience, memory and dreams and on perceptional information. It's always the combination of the inside clashing with the outside. To understand the conception of space as an individual, we are constanstly looking for something that triggers our memory to connect that with a familiar situation or image which does not necessarily belong to the actual space we are currently moving in. Every situation is an overlap of multiple spaces that emerge and disappear from moment to moment.

[Air, a smell, a gap in a wall, a thought]

length x width x height

In order to talk about space it is necessary to margin the meaning of the term in this text and limit it to the general understanging of space in our everyday language. The common definition of space is length x width x height. This constitutes a geometrical space where clearly defined units of length let us measure and calculate distances, relations, positions and sizes. This geometrical space is homogeneous and every part of it is identical. The image of space as a container is still today's dominant conception in everyday's understanding of space. It is the encompassing where everything has its place, position and location. Absolutistic understanding constructs space as a marginal condition of its content and emphasizes the dualism of space and body. It constitutes space as the empty container which is static and motionless and therefore independent from human action. For the understanding of space in the context of art and society this container-like model of space is obviously not suitable. Everything that is not measurable in mathematical terms does not fit in and therefore cannot be observed and discussed. This applies to the non-quantifiable like experience, impression, emotions, feelings and reflection.

'In this way, what I hear in the voice then is not so much the singular individual as an interior directed outward, but the individual's bodily presence and the very space in which we are positioned as an acoustical occurrence. From here we could propose that beyond concentrating on the individual we could just as well be concentrating on the walls from which the voice too originates, from which the voice is reflected, lost in the crowd.'

—Brandon LaBelle, p.11

block of sound

Neuhaus was breaking with traditional music thinking and introduced a change of paradigm in the way he used sound as a material. From that of a structure evolving over time to a 'block of sound', a static body separated from the bond of time. The sculptural usage of sound as a material results in a physical, sensually perceptible work that is neither visible nor tangible. He is creating spaces of sound as an invisible embodiment of soundwaves. Neuhaus uses his sounds in a way we are not used to in our mundane environment. His acoustic spaces have fairly clearly determined limits wich we normally only find in combination with a physical border, like the walls of a room. It's possible to enter and leave his sound sculptures within the range of a head movement. 'On the other hand, this means that it is impossible to perceive the sound “from outside”. Even though it possesses the “objectivity” of something situated outside an individual’s consciousness, and, as such, is an object of sensual perception, it differs fundamentally from visible and tangible things that can be grasped from a distance as discrete objects.'

space observation #1.

The space is not visible anymore but based on my previous observations clearly sensible in its overall appearance. I claim that I‘m probably the only one who ever thought about how the space on the other side of the tunnel wall appears, scarcely anyone ever contemplated or realised how the space under the bridge changes. The tunnel itself is already an overlap of several simultaneusly existing spaces. The outside on both ends get sucked in like a funnel. About two meters wide, two and a half meters high and twenty meters long this tunnel is a cuboid in which the outside reflects from the walls, interlocks and cumulates to an elusive multidimensional space. It‘s a passageway not intended to pause, its only purpose is to avoid the detour around the bridge and the theater. The space is uncomfortable and wet in accordance with this purpose. The walls are meager and the smell is neither conspicuous nor inviting – there‘s actually no reason not to pass the space as quickly as possible. In the refraction of its intended purpose is where I‘m mostly drawn to this space. I‘m the only one stopping, looking around, observing and listening. 

space observation #1....

The acoustic lines now stray different than perceived before, the space underneath the bridge is now an abstract and completely imaginary space. It‘s clear that the vehicles obviously still cover the same distance but as I‘m not able to see them anymore acoustic information is predominantly defining space. Space is only vaguely present in my mind and the single elements are not clearly definable and pigeonholed anymore. As the view to the lower entry of the tunnel is covered by the protuberant semicircular wall it‘s not possible anymore to clearly say if the sound comes from a vehicle nearing or striding-away. The space is a chaotic construct of moving acoustic references. In addition to the lack of visible information the space is abstracted on another level – by physical parameters of sound propagation. The massiv-contructed wall of concrete and limestone doesn‘t let the sound come through, soundwaves only enter through the two openings at both ends of the tunnel. My mind is complementing the acoustic information nevertheless to the fact that vehicles are moving in a normal manner from one direction to the other. 

space observation #2.

The geometrical space of the square is a flat area with its buildings, poles, traffic lights, road marks and tram rails and as such does not demand a deep examination to grasp its structure. It can be detailed or superficial and thus either ordinary or interesting depending on the effort I put into discovering all the shapes, colors, lines and connections contained. It's also fairly easy and comfortable to move within. But as every element on the square has its spatial effect I'm confronted with a complex system of chaotically overlapping spaces whose understanding is an examination on another level. I notice static spaces formed by lamp poles, the arrangement of the chairs and tables in front of the café generate an aggregation of negative spaces and I see ephemeral spaces that vanish as quickly as they emerged. In the lived space we are constantly breaking in somewhere, the area and the plane on which we are moving is bending up or down at certain postitions and we get compressed or pulled apart. All the people passing by are structuring the space, all of them having a different impact on my spatial understanding. The elements form a scene and build a random construct of possibilities and actuality.

ungraspable realms

'In my artistic work I am engaged in embodying, which does not only mean that I produce 'bodies', but also that my own body—as a fund of experience and memories—becomes a means of production… My concern is above all with transferring things from the ungrspable realms of the as-yet-unheard, unformed, and unexplained, into a realm that enables what has been transferred to be perceived in a manner that embraces all the senses, the spirit, and the feeling…' (Glimmende Peripherie, p. 121) This process of transferring from what he calls 'a cloud of intuition, experience, desires, knowledge, emotions, inspirations and leaps of the imagination' into the emergence of the body or object. This transformation is depicted in the lettering of Gedankensprung, the conflict of the 'never entirely unentangable permanence of interactions' becomes apparent in the circular arrangement and the cut of the word, continuously rotating, a spatial repesentation of the failure of finding the center of the notion — the embodyment of a thinking space confined between two glass plates. The actual object forces us to make a mental leap, to jump from the museum into the conceptual realms of the notion.

faciliate human interaction

Michael Asher designed his site specific installations to faciliate human interaction. On the invitation card for the opening reception of exhibitions by Michael Asher, Edward Ruscha, and the Central African Workshop School, La Jolla Museum of Art, La Jolla, California, 1969, the president […] cordially invite you to enter the work of Michael Asher. Opposed to 'view the graphics by Edward Ruscha and see new african art', Michael Asher works cannot be grasped by sight only, the word 'enter' calls for a different engagement with his installation. '“Entering the work” implies crossing a threshold between two environments; it might even promise a passage to an altered state. In other words, “entering” signifies an experience.' (Peltomäki, p.22) Besides a handful exceptions, Asher refused to produce any material art object during his whole career. He focused on altering given exhibition spaces by changing preexisting architectural elements and visible equipment through a process of subtraction, displacement, reemphasis and replacement. All of his works were a direct and immediate reflection and critique of the given exhibition space.

'Completion through removal. Abstraction of surfaces. Not-building, not-to-rebuild, not-built-space. Creating spatial complexity, reading new openings against old surfaces. Light admitted into space or beyond surfaces that are cut. Breaking and entering. Approaching structural collapse, separating the parts at the point of collapse.'

—gordon matta-clark

elisabeth grosz



Everything that forms my understanding of any situation is a presence on its own. It can be the alignment of the lamp poles on the square, the sound of the disappearing cars in the tunnel or the man who walks into the kiosk. This external information I grasp from an engagement with a certain situation mixes with my internal world, the coulour of said man‘s jacket might trigger a memory which alters the presence of the man and thus changes the way I see and understand the space. This is only true for my own existence and cannot be percieved by anyone but me. This is true for everything we experience. The lamp poles and their position form a space in-between, a body of empty space, a present sculptural form that changes with my position and my movement in time and space. I can only get a sense of how people around me see the present individual parts that form this situation. Everything is present but not necessarily true.


My interest for the matter came from a very direct and subjective understanding of space and thus has always been an important component in my artistic practice. It probably has been of interest mainly because of it‘s impalpable and transcendent peculiarity. I ask myself what aspects of space in particular I‘m drawn to? What triggers my attention to a certain space and how does the process of spatial perception flow? How do I transform this cut through reality and depict it in an aesthetic art context? During the research for this project I discovered several aspects of spatiality that trigger my interest  when I move in everyday life. Because adequate theories of perception for the lived, moving space are still lacking, as Franz Xaver Baier (p. 25) points out, I concentrate on a highly subjective description of spatial perception. I present a series of spaces which I observe from different point of views. To embed my observations in the context of space theories I make several excursions to authors and artworks which seem relevant to the examined emphasis. I choose this network of fragments as a form of presentation to avoid a linearity which does not suit the strong ephemeral characteristic of my spatial perception.

configuration utilities

My understanding of space and the way I use the term comes close to how Franz Xaver Baier describes it in his book 'Der Raum'. He sees space as inseparable to the human. We are not existing somehow in space and time but rather be and exist spatial and chronological ourselves. We need to achieve time and space with our own existence. It's a fundamental to our whole existence relating fact. 'That is the radical sense of reality'. (Baier, p. 18) Human and space are inextricably connected and thus space is not face-to-face with the human but, together with time and existence, related to concrete situations in life and can only be understood out of them. He calls them 'configuration utilities' which produce certain realities. To talk about space in an art context it is important to leave out the former definition of space, time and existence given by sciences. All those fields, like politics, economy, science and art open up spaces on their own and therefore need to be considered on its own terms. We can measure and calculate truth but reality only exists as certain situations which we create and put together with the sensorium of our perception.

robert morris

[in perceiving an object, one occupies a separate space—one's own space. in perceiving architectural space, one's own space is not separate but co-existent with what is perceived. in the first case, one surrounds; in the second, one is surrounded.]

visual vs. aural perception

The way we see things and what we perceive aurally differs in several ways and thus, is structuring space differently. 'We speak of the “sight” of a thing and accept that it can change even when the thing remains the same, as, for instance, under changing light conditions. But we are not willing to speak of a sight that is not a sight of something.' Seeing always refers to a certain thing or object while hearing on the other hand doesn't need to have awareness of a specific source. 'In visual perception it is not so easy to find something that corresponds to the statement “I hear a rumbling”, by which we mean, “I hear a sound that could have a number of different sources. I am not speaking about the object that is generating this noise, but about a distinctive resonance that I can sense and want to draw to your attention.”'  Therefore, sight is structuring space in a way of organisation, relations between objects create space in-between, things to which we relate as being near or far, behind or above etc. Limits of objects and things are more clear than the ones of noises and sounds. 

space observation #1...

I hear the vehicles from the upper town first only through the tunnel whereat their sound get filtered and enriched with spatial information from the reflections of the concrete walls at the same time. In the exact moment when a car enters the space underneath the bridge it appears to get split and an imaginary car rushes through the tunnel up to me. As soon as I can hear the direct sound coming from under the bridge they merge again and veer away. Equally, as soon as the cars from the lower side leave the space they seem to come closer through the tunnel. A complex mesh of acoustic lines is lining out, a mental extension of the visible. Once I‘m entering one or two steps in the tunnel I solely hear reflections. I lose all the concrete sounds I heard before, the birds, the people talking on the bridge, the airplanes – they start to get abstract and resonate in the tune of the tunnel. I stand with the back on the wall facing the space underneath the bridge exactly in the middle of the tunnel. The acoustic stereo image is extreme, I hear the vehicles coming from the lower old town mainly on my right ear and vice versa. 

space observation #1.....

I‘m ignoring this discrepancy between knowledge of physical facts and acoustic perception. I concentrate solely on the acoustic think-sculpture which evolves slowly behind the wall. The soundwaves of the passing vehicles are absorbed almost completely at the center of the wall. The body is vanishing from notice for a split second – as if it were inexistent. A gradual process happening in milliseconds. With increasing distance from the entry the sound cannot be noticed anymore – as if the earth had swallowed up the vehicle. The street starts to vertically bend down on a sector of roughly one meter – the cars rush into the maw and immediately find their way back up in an anologue movement. The acoustic lines build a complex mesh of interferences – abstract and distinct at once. Each of these lines burn in the funnel-like narrowing sculpture.

space observation #2...

We seem to perceive spatiality in a highly subjective manner. Perception is the beginning of our examination of the world and at the same time access to every kind of knowledge. Said world is a construction by our brain that we accept as the real. The experiencing self exists in this world but it is not possible to look at this self-contructed reality from the outside. The process of transforming information form the world around us into our inner self is a very personal event. The others, the strange, the alien, the unknown and the chaos is confronting ourselves, the own, the inner self, the known and the familiar. This transformation is hidden to everyone except ourselves. Accordingly the space we perceive is unseen by the others. This might lead to the conclusion that such thing as an objective space doesn't exist. I might share my environment with humans around me but my lebensraum can't be shared. I see how people pass by and structure the space around me with their movements and interactions but what is locked and unlocked to them stays unseen. We don't live in a homogeneous and empty space but one that is charged with qualities. The space of our dreams, anxieties and passions.

no singular point of perceptual objectification

Even though Asher was often seen in the context of light and space artists such as Robert Irwin or James Turrell, he sought to differentiate his works from that movement. Ashers spaces were focusing on evoking an experience and thus made the person who is viewing his art more important than the material object or artwork itself. Asher's reconfigurations and the resulting experience were a combination of spatial relationships between the shape of the new space as well as natural light conditions, temperature and ambient sound. Therefore, Asher was concerned with replacing the act of seeing by that of feeling, as feeling allows a direct bodily response of the viewer to the artwork. 'As a rectangular container with all of its surfaces treated in the same way, the work created a continuity with no singular point of perceptual objectification, unlike phenomenologically determined works which attempted to fabricate a highly controlled area of visual perception. The various constituent elements and functions of the space were made accessible to the viewer's experience. This was in contradistinction to an installation that would insert a predetermined object between the viewers and their perception of the space, while, at the same time, attempt to control the viewers' perception, eventually creating a hierarchy between the object and the viewers where the viewers subsequently became subservient to the object.' (Asher, p. 30)

breaking through the surface

Matta-Clark can be seen as a scriptor. A translator whose artwork was the void. He divided, cut out and created ephemeral pieces which had to be 'apprehended by movements of the viewer's eyes and by the body's place in time.' (Corinne Diserens, p. 6) His first interest in the building as an object to be transformed came from thinking about surface. 'At that point I was thinking about surface as something wich is too easily accepted as a limit. And I was also becoming very interested in how breaking through the surface creates repercussions in terms of what else is imposed upon by a cut. […] The cut makes the building into a manipulated thing, like an object, though it's as much the idea of a cut as the functional construct that interests me.' (Corinne Diserens, p. 165) In the work SplittingMatta-Clark was cutting a typical new york suburb house in half. Two parallel lines one inch apart passed through all structural surface. The cut opens the structure of the house and therefore destroys the border of the surface. The division between the outside and the inside dissolve and daylight is passing through the gap. The act of of taking away structural material of the building makes space for something that hasn't been there before.

elisabeth grosz



This text is an attempt at grasping fragments of space, I tried to achieve to come closer to understand what spatial understanding means for me and my artistic practice. By observing everyday life situations and finding specific spatial triggers, I seem to have found a deeper understanding of how my personal spatial perception flows and how I can translate those observations into creating artworks that involve many of the unanswered questions. Spatial understanding in my own case can hardly be grasped in it‘s entirety within the form of a text and my further investigation with the theme focuses on presence rather than truth, the abstract rather than the concrete and the feeling rather than the rational.To draw the line from mundane spatial perception to the examination of spatial artworks I am confronted with highly interesting questions about how to solve the contradiction of an uncontrollable and non-reproducable process of spatial perception and the aim for the injection of a specific perceptual stance over the artwork. In my artisitc practice I am constantly questioning the mundane spatial perception, I am trying to find possibilities to exhaust the potential of designable spaces with the creation of artworks. How can I construct, provoke and reproduce certain perceptual patterns of my audience?

this is an attempt at grasping fragments of space

masterthesis | florian buerki