Virtual Volumes: An Archaeology of Motion in the European Avant-Garde
CitationLee, Jungmin. 2018. Virtual Volumes: An Archaeology of Motion in the European Avant-Garde. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation proposes an expansive understanding of volume beyond quantitative measurement and considers it as a sculptural body that exists in perception rather than mass and that is created by motion. It asserts that volume is a conceptual object, developed out of uses of the term among the historical avant-garde (László Moholy-Nagy, Naum Gabo), in writing and work, to describe the spatio-temporal quality created by the motions of revolution that figures in Étienne-Jules Marey’s earlier photographic experiments. The concept of motion-derived volume, which I call virtual volume (after Moholy), is the key to understanding the avant-garde’s concern with the shifting paradigms of time and space in modern and postwar art that is three-dimensional and kinetic, rooted in the rhetoric of mediation in chronophotography. The three case studies address modernist scrolls in the 1910s, including Hans Richter’s Präludium (1919), which requires an external agent to physically roll/unroll; Oskar Schlemmer’s Bauhaus Dessau Performances (1927–1929), which engage the viewer’s perceptual mediation of volume relations constituted by the human body and instruments; and Nicolas Schöffer’s cybernetic sculpture series Spatiodynamics (1956–1959), which produces an ambiance of light and sonic effects in reaction to the surrounding sensorial data. In these examples, volume is a term that unites the scroll, sculpture, computation (data), and dynamics. As a carrier and agent of information, volume opens up implications beyond the aesthetic domain and addresses discourses of mediation. I further argue that the processual quality of volume—both as concept and as figuration—was amplified with the emergence of cinema. By foregrounding the turning and compressional operations of cinema via the concept of volume as cultural phenomena that transcend the invention of film, this dissertation draws a trajectory of art works that are influenced by and expand beyond cinema. This archaeological tracing reveals how volume as a conceptual linkage negotiates the changing relationship between matter and form and the material and immaterial from the 1910s to the 1960s. This extra-quantitative consideration of volume can initiate a productive reconsideration of corporeality that is neither material nor dematerialized, but which is formed by its dynamics.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41129149
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