Burgin Chapter 3

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S.R. So you took us more on this course to the 70s, maybe let's come back to the first question where you said that it's very necessary to periodize this question of the influence. When I want to go through the different developments of your work very briefly then I would say in the beginning of the 70s there is lot of self-reflection in the language. But these are installations on the wall. Then I see a lot of work, theoretical and practical work, with photography, in the end of the 70s and in the 80s; and in the 90s, if it's right, you changed more and more to video, video installation; a lot of sound, music, performance. How do you see this development?

V.B. From my perspective it's completely consistent. The movement between language in the common, accepted sense of words, writing, speech, and the image; that movement between those two registers of representation has been constant from the early work to the late work, and video is simply a technological development out of the photographic work that I was doing previously where there was text with the photographs. And what's at the centre of all that is, I think, quite simply a kind of phenomenological interest which, I would think, probably we can again, to periodize it, to speak autobiographically – probably began when I was at Yale, in the School of Art and Architecture at Yale University in the mid-60s, taking classes in philosophy which were centered mainly on readings in phenomenology, and at the same time readings in Artforum, for example much discussed at the time amongst the students. Robert Morris' notesome sclupture which had very much a phenomenological framework, and Ed Michaelson's work; and being very interested in that period in Minimalism which again had a very strong phenomenological component to it.

So I don't think I have ever lost that phenomenological kind of orientation, that concern with attempting to represent the way one actually perceives the world, the active perception itself which inevitably leads one to look at – in more recent terms we would say – the »interface» between an interior subject of mind and an external object of reality. Of course that's greatly to oversimplify the situation because »mind« is precisely just what happens at the interface between which ...; obviously an interest I share in common with a lot of people, not simply artists, but also philosophers, writers of all kinds. If one speaks about it in general I think that's one of the things that art has consistently paid attention to or can be read in terms of, throughout its history, and which it shares in common, as I say, with other forms of literary art and with philosophy. So, when I look at the world, I also have memories and I have words coming into my head, and the visual and the verbal can't actually be separated. So I accept that and I try to work with the visual and the verbal as simultaneously present registers of perception – which is not to say that all the work is about is the act of perception, but that's where it begins.


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