Acconci Chapter 5

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S.R.: No, that's okay. My thesis is that architecture is the oldest mass medium that we have.

V.A.: Yes, it's a kind of platform for people. Architecture is a kind of performance base. It provides people a way to make some kind of activity. Usually architecture imprisons that activity, but maybe it could do the opposite. Architecture should ideally liberate people. A person being in a space that's maybe twisted, turned upside-down should feel: space isn't as determined as I thought. I, now, I the user, I can turn my space upside down, I can turn my own space inside out. Do I know if it does that? I don't know! (laughs) If it doesn't do that then it fails. Architecture should leave people to do their own architecture, their own design. Just as I thought what I was doing stuff in 1970. If I am testing my body, I am trying my body out, this maybe could be an example, not a role-model necessarily, but an example. Now, can people try out their own bodies. But again, I was taking that from what people were doing in the ordinary world anyway.

S.R.: For me the interesting point is that you tried to co-opt on your work with a so-called panoptic system, what Michel Foucault called a panoptic system. You were using it for yourself to testify the self and the architecture.

V.A.: Particular media lacked that. The idea of using film, for example. I could set up a camera in front of me, the camera is aiming at me. What can I do then? All I can do is, I can maybe aim at myself in the same way that the camera is aiming at me. When I started to use video I was struck by the fact... When I saw video I had to ask myself: I've done things with photographs, I've done things with film. What can video do that film didn't? What video could do was provide simultaneous feedback. I could see what I was doing at the moment I was doing it. So video was a learning device. I could see what I was doing, maybe I'm doing it wrong. I can guide myself by means of the video. I can correct my actions by means of the video. Earlier you used the word »science«. [...] I was probably always an outsider of science, but what interested me in that early period of work is that I wanted to go things step by step, the way maybe a scientist goes step by step. For a lot of us by that time Sol Lewitt's sentences and paragraphs on conceptual art were really of prime importance. You set yourself a task, you carry this through, you don't have to make particular decisions anymore, your decision is made with the first action and now it goes step by step, or if some accident occurs that now determines the step. The idea of the individual hand was something I think probably all of us tried to avoid, because the individual hand meant the individual artist's signature, meant this makes something commercially, monetarily valuable. We wanted to, a lot of us wanted to do things that anybody could do.


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