The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

January 1, 2016

As if it were Robert Morris'

and the box w/ the sounds of its own making, whereas in this
case, registration of computer clicks producing the image
measuring the registration or the image registering the
production of its (digital, imaginary) needle sway or spectral
imaginary of the registration of computer clicks; since the
digital is always conceptual, always conceived along code and
protocol lines; realize that it's easy to produce _conceptual
traps_ of this sort, rather than otherwise, and that such traps
in fact constitute the very nature of art and its mappings
within the framework or aegis of the digital; all that remains
to be done here is to acknowledge the entities that produced the
(linux) operating system and its (now and current) attendant
apps; so it's as if it were Robert Morris but without the labor,
the physicality of the world, which has been replaced by the
coupling of finger-strokes within the closed apparatus of the
computer, just as the Morris box, if I remember correctly, was
constituted by a taped recording within it, the sounds evident
through a speaker, to one and all, the audience within a gallery
somewhere on a street in a city in the world, people milling
about, wars, holocausts, nations, in the midst of what would be,
at best, a relatively quiet sound, a moment away, within, of
silence, even, something thought, something dwelling, among
you, something _there._ *

* but among the slaughters as well, the sounds of their own
making as well, and just as well


Artist: Robert Morris

Completion Date: 1961

Style: Minimalism, Conceptual Art

Genre: installation

As its title indicates, Morris's "Box with the Sound of Its Own
Making" consists of an unadorned wooden cube, accompanied by a
recording of the sounds produced during its construction.
Lasting for three-and-a-half hours, the audio component of the
piece denies the air of romantic mystery surrounding the
creation of the art object, presenting it as a time-consuming
and perhaps even tedious endeavor. In so doing, the piece also
combines the resulting artwork with the process of artmaking,
transferring the focus from one to the other. Fittingly, the
first person in New York Morris invited to see the piece was
John Cage-whose silent 1952 composition 4'33" is famously
composed of the sounds heard in the background while it is being
performed. Cage was reportedly transfixed by Box with the Sound
of Its Own Making, as Morris later recalled: "When Cage came, I
turned it on... and he wouldn't listen to me. He sat and
listened to it for three hours and that was really impressive to
me. He just sat there."

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