Categories
academia InTheory

On

The Lightswitch Object

A work of art requires affirmation from an audience. Without reception, and the means for reception, there is a very ‘tree falling in the woods’ situation. In considering the artwork as a network of effect, the light switch is a vital element. Formalist theorists prefer to think of the artwork as an independent unit expressing specific autonomy with no reliance on the beholder. The 1970s saw the dawn of conceptual art and with it, the proclamation that a communicated idea was of more value than a self-sufficient art object. An artwork is a fluid and changeable entity made up of many components in an active network. The artwork, and indeed the object, is an event in which there are many counterparts. The value of an ordinary object, a light switch within the gallery, will be considered to argue this.  

“Phone Voice: I wanna play a game.
Casey Becker: [crying] No.
Phone Voice: Then he dies right now!
Casey Becker: [screaming and crying] NO!! No!
Phone Voice: Which is it? [serious tone] Which is it?
Casey Becker: [crying] Well… what kind of a game?
Phone Voice: Turn off the light. You’ll see what kind of game. Just do it! [Casey walks to the light switch.]
Steve Orth: [muffled] No, Casey! No! No! [Casey switch off the lights.] NO! CASEY!!!”
Scream

It is common in the horror movie genre for the light switch to be a pinnacle object. To turn on the lights ensures safety in illumination, whereas the darkness of lights off signifies uncertainty and danger.[1] Scream, 1996, is a self-referential horror movie utilising, and making aware of, many conventional tactics of the genre. The characters in Scream are themselves fans of horror movies. When Casey Becker turns off the lights at the request of the phone villain, dubbed Ghostface, Steve Orth knows she will perish.

Categories
Interests InTheory

Light Switch

Ceal Floyer is a favourite artist of mine. But I don’t like to look at a lot of her work at once. Every few months I’ll look into a piece. And I’ll think about it for a while.

Light Switch is my most recent source of splendour. I’d heard about this piece, but had never really thought about it.

Light Switch 1992-9 by Ceal Floyer born 1968

 

A projection of a light-switch is shown in Light Switch. Floyer sums up the the ability of the white cube to render an, otherwise functional object, useless. By positioning objects in isolated space, framing them, and labelling them with ‘do not touch’ instructions, the art object is created.

Floyer’s 2D static image of a light switch epitomises this removal of use. A light-switch is a useful fixture to a room, Light Switch as an art object has no function and serves only for it’s aesthetic attributes.

The manner of display is humorous, in true Floyer style. Apparatus heavy, the work is self aware and self mocking in its showing of gallery illusion.

It’s hard to put into words, what is done so neatly by Floyer in Light Switch. I guess I don’t need to, she says it all and gets to the point fast.