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Light Years

Conceptual Art
and the

Light Years: Conceptual Art and the Photograph, 19641977 was

published in conjunction with an exhibition organized by and
presented at the Art Institute of Chicago from December 13, 2011,
to March 11, 2012.
Major funding for this exhibition is generously provided by the
Terra Foundation for American Art and the Andy Warhol Foundation
for the Visual Arts. Additional funding is provided by the Robert
Mapplethorpe Foundation, the Mondriaan Foundation, Amsterdam,
and the Glenstone Foundation.
Major funding for the catalogue is generously provided by the
Lannan Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Sothebys.
The outdoor screening of Andy Warhols Empire on December 9,
2011, is presented with a grant from the Graham Foundation for
Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.
Generous support is also provided by the Exhibitions Trust:
Goldman Sachs, Kenneth and Anne Griffin, Thomas and Margot
Pritzker, the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Foundation, Donna and
Howard Stone, and Melinda and Paul Sullivan.
2011 The Art Institute of Chicago
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,
transmitted, or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic
or mechanical, including photocopy, digital recording, or any other
information storage and retrieval system (beyond that copying
permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the U.S. Copyright Law), without prior written permission from the Publications Department
of the Art Institute of Chicago, except by a reviewer who may quote
brief passages.
First edition
Printed in Italy
Library of Congress Control Number: 2011940049
ISBN: 978-0-300-15971-4

Published by
The Art Institute of Chicago
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Chicago, Illinois 60603-6404
Distributed by
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Produced by the Publications Department of the Art Institute
of Chicago, Robert V. Sharp, Executive Director
Edited by Amy R. Peltz and Maia Rigas
Production by Sarah E. Guernsey, Director, and Joseph Mohan,
Production Coordinator
Photography research by Lauren Makholm, Photography Editor
Separations by Professional Graphics, Inc., Rockford, Illinois
Designed by Jena Sher

Front cover: Marcel Broodthaers, Portrait of Maria Gilissen with Tripod (Portrait de Maria
Gilissen avec Statif), 1967 (plate 17). Back cover: John Baldessari, Throwing Three Balls
in the Air to Get a Straight Line (Best of Thirty-Six Attempts), 1973 (detail; plate 44). Endpapers: Jan Dibbets (Dutch, born 1941). Horizon IIISea (Horizon IIIZee), 1971. 35 mm
color film, two screens; 5 min. Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Pages 1415: Giulio Paolini,
Anna-logy (Anna-logia), 1966 (plate 15). Pages 5657: Eleanor Antin, 100 Boots, 197173
(plate 37). Pages 8889: Douglas Huebler, Variable Piece #4, New York City, 1968, 1968 (plate
32). Pages 13233: John Baldessari, Throwing Three Balls in the Air to Get a Straight Line
(Best of Thirty-Six Attempts), 1973 (detail; plate 44). Pages 16263: Alighiero Boetti, Twins
(Gemelli), 1968 (plate 75). Pages 20607: Annette Messager, Voluntary Tortures (Les
Tortures Volontaires), Album-Collection No. 18, 1972 (plate 95).

The Unfixed

Matthew S. Witkovsky

onceptual Art has regularly been recognized for its pioneering

involvement with photography. One does not have to accept the
polemical claim, made retrospectively by artist Jeff Wall, that
conceptual arts essential achievements are either created in the form
of photographs or are otherwise mediated by them, to agree that
photography was critical to Conceptual Art and, further, to posit that
in the Conceptual era of the 1960s and early 1970s, photography definitively became a paradigmatic form of contemporary art.1 This essay
proposes a timeline to explain the terms of that momentous shift.
Two crucially influential writings on photographyby Roland
Barthes (1964) and Rosalind Krauss (1977)bracket the present
book in chronological terms and will be discussed at the conclusion
to this essay. The end date of Light Years: Conceptual Art and the
Photograph, 19641977 coincides, furthermore, with the rise of largely
better-known waves of artists using photography: 1977 was the
year of the Pictures show at Artists Space that brought to light the work
(not yet photographic) of Sherrie Levine and, subsequently, Cindy
Sherman and Richard Prince; one year later, Wall made his first muralsized prints, a leap to grand scale soon followed by many artists,
particularly graduates of the Dsseldorf Kunstakademie.2 The success
in the 1980s and 1990s of postmodernist photography, defined early
on as copies of copies or presence effected through absence, and
of large-format photographic paintings, has obscured issues raised
in the earlier period covered by Light Years.3 These involve above all the
mutability and material presence of the photographic object, and
its potential as an analog for more established art forms in literature,
painting, and sculpture (in Minimalism above all). Once photographs
became accepted as contemporary art in their own right, this problem
of the analog was turned on photography itself, leading on the one
hand to an intense preoccupation with pictures at actual size, and
on the other to an entropic dispersion of the work of art. Those
liberating developments have profoundly widened the possibilities for
contemporary art as a field without a medium.
Krauss herself later proposed photography as exemplary of the
post-medium condition in contemporary art, a historical situation
in which artists treat all technical and material supportsEktachrome
slides and 16mm film, but also oil paint and canvasas technologies
whose potential is fully realized only once they slide into obsolescence.4
The Conceptual turn to photography, played against the simultaneous
rise of television, certainly can be read as an early instance of the artistic
atavism so pronounced in recent years. But analog is not intended
here primarily to evoke the unfashionable or outmoded. Analogy is a
mode of comparison that involves identifying particular features
of resemblance in an equation that has general validity. It is, as Kaja
Silverman has argued with respect to the work of Gerhard Richter,
an essential means of making intellectual or affective connections that is
of pronounced importance to photography.5 Like all forms of analog
capture, photography reproduces information point for point in a
different dimension, using a recording device to make the equation
an equal sign, however, that also transposes the source according to


T h e U nf i x e d P h otogr a p h

its own mechanical properties. While such point-for-point transfer of

information creates a motivated relation between input and output,
the transposition inherent to devices for analog capture creates other,
arbitrary relationssome of which read as interference, and many
of which remain transparent until they are revealed as conventions
(aesthetic, linguistic, or institutional). This mix of the motivated and
arbitrary, to apply the terms of semiotics, fascinated theorists of photography in the Conceptual era, foremost among them the artists
themselves. The artworks, meanwhile, shuttling from the particular to
the general and back again, came unmoored, auguring our present
situation dominated by migratory pixels; they broke definitively with
the ideal of fixation and preservation governing chemical photography,
but also all art and memory in the analog age.

Circa 1930
T he Prehistory of an Expandable Medium
Artists who turned to photography in the Conceptual era revived, in
most cases unwittingly, precedents established nearly a half century
earlier. Dada, Surrealism, and Constructivism all involved the elaboration
of a new set of standards for art in which photographs and theories
of photography played a major role. The Primitivist adoption of photomontage and the photograma barbarous attack on the fine arts,
fine camera skills, and fine society all at oncewas a hallmark of
those historical avant-gardes in the period immediately following
World War I. So was the turn to vernacular forms such as photojournalism and the amateur snapshot as sources of creative inspiration.6
Magazines soon became a chosen site of display, a vanguard alternative to the museum or gallery exhibition, with radical implications
for the definition of art and its audiences. The creation of singular
images was in important instances displaced by serial or collective
production, a transformation of authors into producers, as Walter
Benjamin incisively observed at the time, that would reappear with
force in Conceptual Art.7 In a separate development, the term medium
came into use around 1930 to help frame the first histories of photography as art.8 Writings on photography at the time dealt not only
with its medium specificityits origins and supposedly distinct
identifying featuresbut also with questions of function and institutional positioning: debates over the document and the relation of
image to caption, and challenges to the notion of originality, among
other discursive matters. It was in the 1910s through the 1930s as
well that photographs first found a niche in art museums and the
art marketplace.9
That intense ferment ceased by 1940, resurfacing only sporadically
in the subsequent decades before a new conjunction of interests
coalesced prior to 1970 that allowed photographs to be theorized and
viewed as vanguard art.10 The process took a number of years and,
more importantly, initially involved photographic forms other than the
standard gelatin silver print. Conceptual artists in the 1960s made
books, canvases, slides, and magazine pieces before they commonly
began to exhibit straight photographs. This is not to say that conven-

tional prints mark the ultimate acceptance of photography as a

contemporary art formquite the contrary. It is important to recognize
the variability of forms as constitutive of photography qua contemporary art, and therefore as giving a vital impetus for all art to range
freely across disciplines.

Circa 1960
Photography as Mass Medium
A nearer historical precedent to photography in the Conceptual era
was the engagement with mass media pictures that swelled during
the 1950s and culminated in Pop Art. Here, however, it is important
to distinguish between artists general fascination with the photographic and the production of new photographs that became a feature
of Conceptual Art. Earlier collages or assemblages, for example, by
the proto-Pop Independent Group in London (founded 1952), or Robert
Rauschenberg in his Combines (from around 1954) reflect an understanding of photography as a pool of public imagery, anonymous and
available for poetic and critical reappraisal. The assisted readymade
techniques of the Franco-Italian Affichisteswho removed accretions
of torn billboards wholesale from the street, including (from around
1960) ones with photographic imageryand, most famously, the silk
screens of Andy Warhol (from 1962), likewise depended on the ubiquity
of print media as an image world. When artists did make photographs,
as in early Fluxus, they circulated them as ephemera in an alternative
media stream. Yves Kleins iconic trick photograph of 1960, Saut

dans le vide (Leap into the Void), likewise illustrated a mock tabloid that
Klein provocatively subtitled Le journal dun seul jour (One-Day
Newspaper) (fig. 4, p. 137).11
Also germane to the beginnings of photoconceptualism in the
mid-1960s were contemporaneous paintings and drawings from photographs (whether appropriated or original) by, among others, Richard
Artschwager, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, and Vija Celmins. Such
works, like those by Warhol and Rauschenberg, certainly helped gain
acceptance for camera pictures as a basis for fine art. More profoundly,
these paintings, however flat they initially appeared, showed an
unexpected emphasis on the material qualities of photographic source
imagery (in contrast, for example, to the glassy canvases of Robert
Bechtle, Richard Estes, and other Photorealist painters also from that era).
Whether it was the blur haunting camera images taken from life, the
dot screens and fiber grain in printed pages, or even the numbing repetition of sheets coming off the printing press, the material and
mechanical basis for mass media photography informed vanguard
paintingjust as it would inform Conceptual Art. Although the latter
movement was said from early on to be aiming at dematerialization,
that tag was a misnomer for what amounted to the development of
a new set of material practices, grounded in the mutability and anonymity of photographs.12

Ed Ruscha and the Analogic Image
The authoring of photographic works as Conceptual Art finds one
prototypical origin in the books of Ed Ruscha, a string of sixteen
publications that began with Twentysix Gasoline Stations, prepared
in 1962 and published in April 1963. Ruscha had been taking his
own photographs and, exceptionally for the period, came close to
exhibiting them, albeit in an importantly altered form: I had taken
photographs of a market sign on the corner of Alvarado and Sunset,
where the Burrito King is, and they were dilapidated neon signs
that were no longer in use, and the sign just sat at the top of this
building [fig. 1]. I drove by that place every day and looked at that
sign, which had a kind of mystical connection to me somehow. I
started photographing it, then Id transpose the photograph to
something, mount that down on something, and try to make that
into something else.13
Curator Walter Hopps reported discovering combinatory objects
in Ruschas studio in late 1961 that featured a mixture of book covers
and the artists photographs mounted to canvas and framed by handpainted lettering.14 Although Ruscha left off these works and did
not present Sunset and Alvarado in any form during that period, the
experiments are significant, both for introducing an artists original
photographsrather than found imagesinto a work of fine art,
and for adopting transposition as a working method. To take ones
own photograph and make that into something else, even while
keeping the photograph intact, was a novel procedure that would
animate Ruschas photobooks as well.

Figure 1 Ed Ruscha (American, born 1937). Sunset and Alvarado, Market Sign, 1961. Gelatin
silver print; 25.4 20.3 cm (10 8 in.). The Art Institute of Chicago, future gift of the artist,

M at t h ew S . W i t kov s k y


In these much-discussed works, Ruscha acted as a wayward

notary, certifying the existence of a provocatively random selection of
26, 34, 9, some, or a few examples of common and/or
corporate structures or objects, from filling stations to swimming
pools, business cards, and palm trees. The books, populated by
anonymous photographs, displaced authorial significance from the
creation of individual images to what Benjamin Buchloh called the
administration of archival informationbut also to quasi-narrative
constructions.15 Many artists would later take up these ideas to bring
the forms of archive and narrative into surprising alignment. HansPeter Feldmann and Christian Boltanski mixed their own photographs
with found snapshots to create picture catalogues (Feldmann)
and fictionalized histories (Boltanski), in books from 196869 and
later in installations (plates 8692). In 1970, Agnes Denes invented
a statistically driven obituary for the real, cremated remains of an
unnamed individual, which she called Human Dust: He was an
artist. He died of a heart attack. . . . He was unhappy and lonely more
often than not, achieved 1/10,000 of his dreams, managed to get his
opinions across 184 times and was misunderstood 3,800 times when
it mattered. Denes presented the work variously as sculpture and
photographs (plate 59), and in 1989 made it into a book.16 Allen
Ruppersberg similarly used photographs to span the space of books
and installations, deploying ideas of storytellingabsent any narrative
cl0sureacross the media of film, visual art, and literature. In Wheres
Al? (1972), questions about authorial status are rendered as a humorous search for the artist by his friends, in what is essentially a
photobook spatialized for wall display (plate 93). In his essay for
the present exhibition catalogue, made in 1973, Ruppersberg appears
in a photo booth masked behind an issue of Rona Barretts Hollywood,
holding the magazine up to the camera page by page in eighty-four
frames (pp. 14560). Ruppersberg played with the gossip columnist
Barretts Look at me persona and her (gendered) authorial identity, which, like the plagiaristic title character in Jorge Luis Borgess
1939 story Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote, he usurped
through recopying.
Ruschas first published statements on his artistic sideline contain
an oblique comment on Minimalism: It is almost worth the money,
he told John Coplans in 1965, to have the thrill of 400 exactly identical
books stacked in front of you.17 Amassed in the hundreds, these
diminutive publications recalledagain in the mode of transpositionthe heft of a stack by Donald Judd or the undifferentiated
character of a Robert Morris column, both first exhibited the same year
that Twentysix Gasoline Stations appeared. It is important to see that
Ruschas books did not expand the definition of sculpture directly, as
Judd or Morris (and several generations of avant-gardists before
them) had done by importing previously unaccustomed materials
onto sculptures conventionally accepted terrain. Instead, invading
subgenres of literature such as the paperback or commercial brochure
permitted discourse at a distance; Ruscha was proposing that objects
in a minor art could function analogously to works of recent fine art.

This analogy precisely makes compelling the idea of the book as

mobile sculpture; the stacks could be dismantled and handled or
carried around, as art historian Ken Allan has argued.18 The goal of
setting Minimalism or Pop in motion likewise animated the Muybridge
boxes of Sol LeWitt (1964; plate 4)serial photographs of a nude
model advancing toward the viewer across an eight-foot span of peepholesand the drive-by photocanvases of John Baldessari (196668),
among other early instances of the Conceptual fascination with art on
the move.19


Figure 2 Mel Bochners 36 Photographs and 12 Diagrams on view in Scale Models and Drawings
at the Dwan Gallery, January 1967. Dwan Gallery Records, Archives of American Art,
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

T h e U nf i x e d P h otogr a p h

Photoconceptualism Year Zero
Four works from 1966 offer model pathways into what had become
a nascent photoconceptual movement: the photocanvas Anna-logia
(Anna-logy) by Giulio Paolini; Dan Grahams slide projection Homes
for America; the first photowork by Mel Bochner, 36 Photographs and
12 Diagrams; and Bruce Naumans photographs, particularly SelfPortrait as a Fountain. Across a variety of preoccupations, these pieces
confirmed the self-reflexive attention in Conceptual Art to cameras
as generators of analog imagesalthough notably, only one of the
four listed was presented in the conventional art-photographic form
of a single print.
Photocanvases proved attractive in 196569 to a variety of mostly
European artists, including Giovanni Anselmo, Baldessari, Marcel
Broodthaers, and Jan Dibbets (plates 66, 2, 17, 9, 76). Clearly, this
short-lived technique established an inroad for photography as a
fine art before working with actual photographs had become readily
accepted. It also changed the relations between photography and
painting, just as Ruschas books had done with respect to sculpture
but according to a different type of analogic reasoning. Rather than
suggesting structural similarities in a conventionally distinct form (the
book as sculpture), photocanvases created a scalar surrogate,
producing photographs in and of the space of painting.
In Anna-logy (plate 15), Paolini had himself photographed from
behind by his future wife, Anna Piva, while handling one of his very
first photoemulsion pieces, 1421965a work that itself consisted of

the painter being photographed (on February 14, 1965) in front of a

primed but otherwise unpainted canvas (fig. 2, p. 165). A series of real
or reproduced blank canvases in both works thus hold the painters
unrealized creative potential infinitely in suspension. The two white
canvases between which the photopainting is sandwiched in Anna-logy
function like quotation marks surrounding an absent phrase, an
equivalent of what Paolini in 1967 called the figure of the painter . . .
in search [of ] a suitable painting.20 Paolini pursued this inversion
of creative and spectatorial roles with brilliant con-cision the following
year in Giovane che guarda Lorenzo Lotto (Young Man Watching
Lorenzo Lotto), a lifesize reproduction of Lottos closely cropped,
frontally facing Ritratto di giovane (Portrait of a Young Man) of 1506
(plate 16). In 1967 as well, Broodthaers made a photocanvas that
pictures his partner, Maria Gilissen, in the act of photographing a
presumptive spectator, equipped moreover with a real tripod to suggest that the space of painting, now mediated through photography,
is shared by creator and spectator alike (plate 17).
The suggestion of exact reversibility in these imagesthe animation of artworks as spectators and the concomitant repositioning of
spectators as participants in the creation of the work of artmodels
the ideal analogic structure, which Kaja Silverman describes as reversible and democratizing.21 Although analogy can just as easily
establish a hierarchy between two or more elements, the analogic
relations favored in Conceptual Artabove all tautology in its many
formswere radically egalitarian in nature. The emphasis on reciprocity
in many photoconceptual works goes against the understanding of
photography as generating an endless regression of (self-)alienating
representations or strengthening regimes of dominance and inequality.
The use of photographic works in Conceptual Art to foster reversible
social relations is anti-authoritarian and suggests that a fundamental
unity links disparate subject positions. Silverman, who gives this unity
a redemptive cast, argues that the correspondences established
through analogy can connect us to both ourselves and others, promoting transformation rather than stasis, equality rather than hierarchy,
and an unfinished universality rather than a closed order.22
When Dan Graham first presented Homes for America as a slide
lecture in the December 1966 exhibition Projected Art at the short-lived
Finch College in Manhattan, he called it simply Project Transparencies:
a set of perhaps twenty-one slides of housing developments photographed while commuting between New York City and his parents
home in Westfield, New Jersey. Graham, who would spend considerable
time thinking about photography in the later 1960s, explicitly wished
to transpose Minimalism into the realm of the photographic.23 However, the project took forms that opened up unanticipated avenues
for a work of art (plates 110, 111 ). Best known is its simultaneous
publication in Arts Magazine, part of a wave of interest in magazine
pieces of which the first (with photographic illustrations) was Robert
Smithson and Mel Bochners The Domain of the Great Bear, published in the journal Art Voices in September 1966: an eight-page work
of art masquerading as an article about the Hayden Planetarium.24

Mimicry, an extreme form of analogic resemblance, was deployed

in other magazine pieces and related works around 1970 (including
personal ads, profiles, billboards, and television and radio broadcasts)
in a neo-Dada annexation of the mass media as an unwitting accomplice in the creation of new art.
Bochners 36 Photographs and 12 Diagrams marks the first known
showing of actual photographic prints in the context of vanguard fine
art (fig. 2, plate 5). The work, created in late 1966 in response to
an exhibition invitation from dealer Virginia Dwan, consists of three
standard viewsplan, elevation, and axonometricof each of twelve
isometric arrangements of wooden cubes, along with one photograph each of the numerical diagrams used to model these arrangements. (Each space in a seven-by-seven paper grid was filled with a
number from 1 to 4, or left blank; a corresponding number of cubes
was then stacked to form a three-dimensional object, seven stacks
to a side.) The work, initially, was the serial sculpture, and the photographs were commissioned for maximum neutrality and completeness
of information. However, as Scott Rothkopf and others have recounted,
Bochners recourse to photography, which created distortions of
perspective, scale, and lighting, only heightened what he called the
illusion of literalism, or rhetoric of objectivity, that characterized
much new art of the 1950s and early 1960s.25 What came to interest
Bochner was the noise or interference introduced by photography as
a form of analog capturethose elements that, whether in recordings
of text, sound, or image, complicate the promise of faithful and
proportionate reproduction.26
Bochners subsequent interrogation of what he called the groundlessness of photography, in text works, measurement pieces, and
many further variations on the grid between 1966 and 1969 (plates 58),
marks a singularly persistent turn toward the photograph as a material and theoretical object. His experiments were nevertheless soon
joined by those of Jan Dibbets, whose body of work Correctie op het
perspectief (Perspective Correction; 196769), created by photographing
trapezoidal shapes in real space from an oblique angle such that
they appear as flat squares, similarly incited reflection on the mediations of the camera apparatus (plate 9). Michael Snow, meanwhile,
repeatedly tested photographys negotiation between phenomenology
and linguistics, for example in Press (1969), a four-by-four grid of
various objects photographed under glass that is itself sandwiched
at the corners by real C-clamps (plate 11). And Joseph Kosuth invited a
direct comparison of cognitive systems that proceeded, moreover, by
analogy, in those of his Proto-Investigations involving one and three
versions of an object (first exhibited in 1967). A particular common
objectsaw, clock, chair, door, lamp, and so forthwas presented
in between a life-size photograph of that object in situ and a dictionary
definition for that class of objects, enlarged by photostat most often
to the same size. Each version would analogize the other two, in a
circle that was importantly mediated through photography; in certain
instances, all three elements were photographic (plate 61). (The cognitive dissonance prompted by these pieces arises from the incom-

M at t h ew S . W i t kov s k y


patibility between an analogic comparison of partic-ularsan object

and its exact reproductionand the inductive reasoning necessary
to correlate any given object with the general definition for that
class of objects.)
An entirely different approach to materiality was opened up by
Bruce Naumans photographs of 196667, which probably constitute
the earliest examples of straight photography by an artist operating
in the vanguard of painting and sculpture. Brief though it was, the
attention Nauman accorded to photography radically changed the
possibilities for photographs as contemporary art. Nauman, as is
known, had seen a retrospective exhibition of the work of Man Ray
in the fall of 1966 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.27 He was
impressed by Man Rays versatility and, no doubt, by the ways in
whichentirely contrary to Bochner and others in Naumans own
timeMan Ray used his camera to consume and regurgitate his
own sculpture. According to art historian Janine Mileaf, in his Dada
years above all, Man Ray presented photographs provocatively as
an endpoint or equivalent, rather than as a documentary record, of
sculptural arrangements that he variously disappeared (and later
resurrected as multiples from an absent original).28 Nauman did the
same, for example, in Composite Photo of Two Messes on the Studio
Floor (plate 13), which announced its own originary presence as a conjoining of two anterior creations, each deliberately fleeting, formless,

and debased. The photograph offered a third mess in its own right,
an ungainly ten-foot piece that disjointedly mapped the studio
terrain as if in imitation of the lunar surveys then underway through
the Apollo space program.29
Reviving the precedent of visual puns by Man Ray and Marcel
Duchamp, Nauman also turned to photography to make language
and sculpture interchangeable. His photographs of farcically literal
enactments of common expressionsprinted, moreover, in color, an
adaptation of commercial photography more shocking even (in an
art context) than Ruschas photobooksclearly stood alone as finished
works; they were not a serial or multipart creation (even though
eleven of the resulting photographs were later issued as a portfolio)
but individual pieces. Furthermore, the punning pictures swallowed
their captions, such that the common Conceptual move to lay bare
the coded nature of visual representation by expressing the codes
directly as language was here accomplished instead by subsuming
language within the image itself.
Several of these works were shown at Naumans debut exhibition
with Leo Castelli in January 1968 (fig. 3).30 Here Nauman presented
what would become his signature photograph, Self-Portrait as a
Fountain (1966; plate 14), which he used for the invitation card as
well. In the exhibition, this work hung alongside a panel, originally
made for a storefront window, upon which Nauman had lettered


Figure 3 Bruce Naumans debut exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, January 27
February 17, 1968. Castelli Gallery Archives, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution,
Washington, D.C.

T h e U nf i x e d P h ot ogr a p h

The True Artist Is an Amazing Luminous Fountain. The juxtaposition seems disappointingly to relegate the photograph (much smaller
and placed in a corner) to the level of an illustration. One could, however, reverse the equation and see this installation as a subversive
monumentalization of the convention of photographic captioning.31
Whereas most Conceptual uses of photography retained the caption
function even when they invested it with irony, the Castelli presentation
of these two works, one isolating image and the other text as a visual
field, could be understood as defamiliarizing that convention and
thereby prompting a more categorical set of reflections: for example,
on the dethronement of fine art achieved by repositioning a giant
wall work as a subordinate element in the register of the photographic.

Apotheosis and Dispersion
With Self-Portrait as a Fountain, one might say that uses of photography
in Conceptual Art had reached their ultimate conclusionbut this
would be to misread the drive toward multiplicity in that singular image.
Nauman, like Man Ray, did not want to be bound to any notion of
medium or continuity of practice, and if photography helped him especially to achieve that aim, it was because it patently relied on so
many other creative domains for its identity. However, the arrival
of photography as contemporary art interestingly brought this lack
of fixity to bear on photographs themselves. As Conceptual Art entered
its phase of apotheosis, the issue shifted from using photographs
as a form of art by other meanscanvases, slides, magazines, grids,
and photostatsto what, literally, to make of photographs.
One thing to make of them was a hypostatized image at actual
size. This approach, first explored in Ruschas twenty-five-foot book
Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966; plate 28), proposed photographic images as forcefully mediated substitutes for the experience
of space.32 For Bochner, such investigations came out of skepticism
regarding photography as verifiable truth.33 His photoworks Actual
Size (1968)two photographs, one showing the artists head and
shoulder, the other his right hand, against an index of measurement
placed in vinyl on the wallsuggest that, even though the physical size
of a photograph and the size of what it depicts might be made to
seem identical, contradictory cognitive systems are in play. With sheer
hyperbole, Michael Heizer soon created a far different piece under
the same title. His Actual Size: Munich Depression (196970) was a
mammoth, multiple-projector slide installation that meticulously
adapted the dimensions of a spherical earthwork he had made outdoors in Munich to the cuboid volume of art spaces in New York.
Occupying more than seven thousand square feet and reaching more
than eighteen feet high, the surrogate projection undoubtedly made
an overwhelming impression when it was shown at the Dia Foundation
in 1970 and again at the Guggenheim International exhibition the
following year. Heizer made several studies for the slide piece, assembling necklaces of collaged photographs from eight feet (plate 24)
to eighteen feet long (Fotomuseum, Winterthur) as he prepared the

final slide version, now at the Whitney Museum of American Art, for
which he had anabolic lenses fabricated to minimize planar distortion.34 [T]he experience of looking is constantly altered by physical
factors, Heizer noted at the time, and he acknowledged photography
as a physical experience: I think certain photographs offer a precise
way of seeing works. You can take a photograph into a clean white
room, with no sound, no noise. You can wait until you feel so inclined
before you look at it and possibly experience to a greater depth whatever view you have been presented with.35
Using a variety of mechanisms, Ger van Elk, Gordon Matta-Clark,
and many others pursued the problem of actual size throughout
the early 1970s (plates 20, 26). Giuseppe Penone in particular tested
life-size photography as a means of suggesting the interdependence
between nature and its representation in art. His multiple Untitled
(plate 103) shows the artists forearm, again at actual size, placed
along the sides of a square photographic image, with each of the
pictures framed in galvanized aluminum; on the side touched by
the image of his body, the frame is corroded, as if by human oil and
sweat. For another set of works, Penone projected pictures of his
chest or foot on plaster casts of those parts of his body, inviting the
viewer to reconstruct reality as a composite of image and object
(plate 104).
Such projects seemed to ask: Can a photograph usurp its source
to become a contingent part of the physical world, and if so, what
will fix its image in time and space? A slipperiness developed regarding
the appearance of artworks, in which the very same piece could exist
in multiple, dissimilar versions. The standard argument that physical
form held no importance for artists engaged in dematerialization
cannot be reconciled with the artists self-reflexive attention to photographic properties, among them the all-important questions of scale
and sizing. It seems more correct to see variations in presentation
form as a natural consequence of the material pressures put on photography by Conceptual artists. Two works from 1969, Vito Acconci's
Twelve Pictures and Victor Burgins Photopath, give a particular sense
of the stakes involved.
On May 28, 1969, at nine and eleven oclock in the evening, Acconci
walked onstage and performed a piece that he described soon afterward in working notes: House lights out, stage lights out. Starting
from stage left, facing the audience and looking through a camera,
I step to my right, across the stage. At each step, I press down the
shutter: the flash-cube flashes, the stage lights up, the house lights
up. The performance results in 12 photographs. In Twelve Pictures, as
Acconci came to call the first of his many photo exercises in 1969
70, the artist used a camera to test power relations with his audience.
This is what interested him most immediately, as his further notes
for the piece make clear: I can use the flash to let them see. I can
take the stage, take the audience (Ill have their photographs in
my possession).36 After retrieving those photographs from a local
store three months laterAcconci was indifferent to the prints at
first; the performance was the work, the camera its necessary prop

M at t h ew S . W i t kov s k y


he considered what to do with them. He determined that Twelve

Pictures could exist in multiple versions: on a sheet, on a wall, in a
book, or, most intriguingly, in a pile. The sheet version, which
Acconci mocked up as a grid on paper measuring ten and a half by
fourteen inches (subsequently lost), he termed straightforwardly
pictures as performance of the performance or end of the performance. Placed on the wall, the pictures could be mounted in a
single row, in which case they reversed the terms of the performance,
making the viewer into what Acconci called a moving reader as
performer. In the book version, meanwhile, the reader/viewer became
a (new) performer or a (supplemental) audience, in either case someone entering a moving area, a notion that could well mean the
potentially limitless terrain of circulating printed copies.
From sheet to wall to printed page, then, the photographs could
be continually reassembled for different audiences and in different
forms. The importance of this variability and its attendant, ongoing
interactivity between audience and performer becomes clear in
considering the final presentation form, the pile version, a simple
stack of the unmounted prints: Pile version: reader as rereader;
reader as former of the performance (form as reading of the performance); reader as indeterminate performer in indeterminate area
(performer as indeterminate reader in indeterminate area; performer
as indeterminate area in indeterminate reading; reader as indeterminate
area in indeterminate performance).
The pile version of Twelve Pictures carries a definite echo of
scatter pieces by Robert Morris, Barry Le Va, Richard Serra, and
others, in which industrial materials were distributed with an intent
to maximize random occupation of the exhibition surface. Again,
work with photographs responds to work in sculpture. But again, the
results have another resonance, in this case the breakdown of temporal
sequence and the consequently greater scattering of audiences for
the work in its various guises. The analog becomes digital: the photograph as particle, as pixel, is let loose; deprived of any certain coherence
or narrative order, it is left to settle or be resettled in entropic fashion
by successive viewers.
This strategy of photographic piles would be used to innovative
effect by Annette Messager, who pioneered constellations of photographs as diminutive fetish objects in 1973 with Les Tortures volontaires
(Voluntary Tortures), her critique of plastic surgery (plate 95). Gilbert
and George similarly began in 1972 to shape multiple small photographs
into wall sculptures, creating everything from their own monumentalized initials (plate 96) to wobbly projections of their drunkenness,
or even reverse swastikas in the series Human Bondage (1974). These
multipart constructions, which could be taken (following Bochner) as
a further dissolution of the modernist grid, also implied the possibility
of dispersion and multiplicity within a single medium. One reason
for making and exhibiting a work, stated Adrian Piper straightforwardly, is to induce a reaction or change in the viewer. . . . In this sense,
the work as such is non-existent except when it functions as a medium
of change between the artist and the viewer.37 It is one thing to meet


T h e U nf i x e d P h ot ogr a p h

Pipers Mythic Being (197375) out on the street, another to come

across this confrontational character as a classified advertisement
in the Village Voice, and yet another to contemplate it in an exhibition
or book (plates 98100). Taking entropy to the level of a modus
operandi, Douglas Huebler provocatively left unspecified the ordering
of any of his works for display, stating only that a given number of
images will join with this statement to constitute the final form of
the piece. And randomness was brought to an extreme by Emilio
Prini in his project to print two thousand automatically generated
photographs yearly for a decadea parody of market productivity
that yielded unexhibitable masses of paper stacked on warehouse
shelves (see p. 167).38 For his part, Acconci has adopted a deliberate
openness regarding the presentation of his photoworks over the
years, from the staid juxtaposition of small-format photographs and
neatly written notes in the early 1970s, to an overlay of aphoristic
remarks on prints mounted as separate panels within a single frame
(circa 1980 and after), and, in recent years, a sober, evidentiary
mounting of the original prints accompanied by substantial written
documentation (plates 2123).39 It is not that the precise exhibition
format is unimportantfar from itbut that it cannot matter in any
one, fixed way.
In the fall of 1969, meanwhile, Victor Burgin exhibited Photopath
(plate 27), a piece he had first made two years earlier in a friends
apartment, at the London venue of Live in Your Head: When Attitudes
Become Form.40 As with Acconcis photo performance, Burgins
instructions were brilliantly simple: to photograph a section of the
exhibition floor, then print the photographs at life scale and set them
back precisely over their source. A ribbonlike work some sixty feet
long was the result, and it deliberately recalled the Cuts and metal
floor pieces by Carl Andre.41 But the identity of Photopath was at
once more and less literal than any Minimalist object. It was demonstratively bound to its referent in a way that would be theorized,
from that very year, as indexical: an imprint, formed by the touch
of light on photosensitive surfaces, that in principle corresponds
point for point with a preexisting reality, and whose meanings issue
from this fact of correspondence.42
Once in place, however, the piece seemed not to index its referent
but to exchange places with it; Photopath integrated the marks of
times passage while protecting its original subject from normal wear
and tear. Walking on Photopath was not the works raison dtre, as
Burgin has recently written, but its title and placement clearly invited
the treads that Andres works were made to withstand.43 Yet even
if no one stepped onto it, the very light rays that had helped bring
Photopath into being would breach its surface and progressively
cause it to fade. This work, hypertrophically indexical at its inception,
could not help but function as an ever-changing material object
when analogized either to the floor on which it restedwithout protective glazing or frameor to the conventions of sculpture and
photography as they existed in 1969. Photopath flaunted its fragility; it
lived in your head, but also and importantly under your feet.

197 71964
From Index Back to Analogon
The slavish doubling of reality undertaken by Burgin seems perfectly
to anticipate the influential insights of art historian Rosalind Krauss,
who declared in 1977 that contemporary art again and again chooses
the terminology of the index. Summarizing the inaugural exhibition
at the art space PS1 in New York, Krauss wrote of the participants that
their procedures were to exacerbate an aspect of the buildings
physical presence, and thereby to embed within it a perishable trace
of their own.44 Krausss two-part article, Notes on the Index, published in the recently founded journal October, stands as a milestone
in the advance of photographic theory during the 1970s, a development that proceeded contemporaneously with market and museum
attention to artists using photography.
In the first part of her essay, Krauss argued that the increasing
use of actual photographs in recent art was but a literal manifestation
of artists awareness that photographic functioning held at its core
no convention of style but instead the imprint of things in the world,
substitut[ing] the registration of sheer physical presence for the
more highly articulated language of aesthetic conventions (and the
kind of history which they encode).45 In the second part, Krauss
praised brute registration as a means of clearing the air: what she
called the quasi-tautological condition of a documentary image
(a seemingly unaltered representation of a preexisting reality), which
freed artists from the mystifications of authorial mark-making and
liberated their work from the truly dead-end obsession with medium
specificity characteristic of abstract painting and sculpture in the
initial postwar decades. In place of that rarefied and hermetic work
had come new forms of abstraction, honest and open to the world,
which shared in their contingency a structural similarity to the photographic image. Newer abstract painting and photography, though
seemingly worlds apart, could thus be shown to be linkedin an
argument against the use of style and medium as meaningful
terms of art historical evaluation.
In elaborating these insights, Krauss turned to writings by French
semiotician and philosopher Roland Barthes, in particular his essay
of 1964, Rhetoric of the Image. Barthes described there the sense
one has in looking at a photograph of a literal, Edenic record of times
passing: This utopian character of denotation is considerably reinforced by the paradox . . . that the photograph (in its literal state), by
virtue of its absolutely analogical nature, seems to constitute a message
without a code. Analog recording, with its myth of photographic
naturalness. . . a guarantee of objectivity, had instituted a new form of
human consciousness, Barthes argued, in which spatial immediacy
was conjoined to temporal anteriority, the photograph being an illogical
conjunction between the here-now and the there-then. It is thus at
the level of this denoted message or message without code that the
real unreality of the photograph can be fully understood . . . for the
photograph is never experienced as illusion. To interpret photographs
critically requires conjoining disparate signs, Barthes concluded, in

an active deconstruction of the alluringly continuous image surface:

[W]e are here dealing [in fact] with a normal system whose signs
are drawn from a cultural code (even if the linking together of the
elements of the sign appears more or less analogical).46
Barthes led the way in reading photographs as instances of semiotic functioning, an achievement upon which Krauss built enormously.
His emphasis on analogy steered that reading, however, toward an
awareness of transpositionthe transformations that necessarily
separate source from target in the sphere of mechanical reproduction
that would only emerge in the writings of Krauss and others some
years later, in the context of discussions on Surrealism.47 And where
Surrealism (and, it bears noting, Barthess late writing on photography) considered reality to be a system of signs opened up by the irruptions of the uncanny, Conceptual Art investigated the problem of
the analogon in an entirely canny way, based not on glimpses of
trauma or revelation but on a studied, if often witty, analysis of conventions and habits of mind.48
What the Conceptual era further made manifest was the mutability
of the photographic analog caught between image and object. Presented in books and slides, on canvases and photostats, serially and
singly, and framed by multiple textual devices, photographic images
created the equivalent of neologisms in artistic practice; they added
new formations to the vocabulary of art through analogy to established norms in other disciplines. But then the analogic transpositions
turned inward. When artists in the Conceptual era tested the properties and conventions of photographs themselvesperspective, sequencing, scale, color, captioning, rhetoricthey made objects that,
in courting the condition of dumb facts or approaching the actual size of their referents, became unfixed as imprints of the real.

M at t h ew S . W i t kov s k y


1. Jeff Wall, Marks of Indifference: Photography in,
or as, Conceptual Art, in Reconsidering the Object of
Art: 19651975, ed. Ann Goldstein and Anne Rorimer
(Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 1995),
p. 253. Among the steadily growing literature on photoconceptualism, see Margaret Iversen and Diarmuid
Costello, eds., Photography After Conceptual Art (John
Wiley and Sons, 2010); tep
n Grygar, Konceptuln
ume n a fotografie (Akademie Mzickch Umen, 2004);
Douglas Fogle, The Last Picture Show: Artists Using
Photography, 19601982 (Walker Art Center, 2003);
John Roberts, ed., The Impossible Document: Photography and Conceptual Art in Britain, 19661976
(Camera Works, 1997).
2. For overviews of these artistic formations, see
Michael Fried, Why Photography Matters as Art as
Never Before (Yale University Press, 2008); Douglas
Eklund, The Pictures Generation, 19741984 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009); and Stefan Gronert,
Lcole de Photographie de Dusseldorf: Photographies,
19612008 (Hazan, 2009).
3. Douglas Crimp, The Photographic Activity of
Postmodernism, October 15 (Winter 1980), p. 94;
Jean-Franois Chevrier, The Adventures of the Picture
Form in the History of Photography (1989), in
Fogle, The Last Picture Show, p. 114.
4. Rosalind Krauss, A Voyage On the North Sea: Art
in the Age of the Post-Medium Condition (Thames and
Hudson, 1999), p. 5. See also Krauss, And Then
Turn Away? An Essay on James Coleman, October
81 (Summer 1997), pp. 533; and Reinventing the
Medium, Critical Inquiry 25, 2 (Winter 1999), pp.
289305. It is not incidental that Krauss focuses her
arguments on Coleman and Marcel Broodthaers,
two key figures of the early Conceptual era.
5. Kaja Silverman, Photography by Other Means,
chap. 7 in Flesh of My Flesh (Stanford University
Press, 2009), pp. 168221. Silverman elaborates in
that book a compelling and much larger set of arguments regarding analogical understanding that can
be addressed here only glancingly. Analogy, she
claims, serves fundamentally to allow us to heal rifts
in our own identity and to bridge differences between ourselves and others; we should understand
the world as a web of resemblances in which we
are bound. Photography is in Silvermans view not
necessarily a means to generate representations
conventionally understood as deceitful, groundless,
or pallidbut a device that can give form to analogical
correspondences, that is, connections across a
distance (the shift to digital matters little in this regard).
6. The turn to photojournalism and amateur snapshots as models for Conceptual Art is one of Walls
main points in Marks of Indifference.
7. Walter Benjamin, The Author as Producer (1934),
trans. Anna Bostock, in Charles Harrison and Paul
Wood, eds., Art in Theory, 19002000: An Anthology


T h e U nf i x e d P h otogr a p h

of Changing Ideas, 2nd ed. (Blackwell Publishing,

2003), pp. 49399.
8. For a discussion of medium and its introduction to
photographic discourse, see Matthew S. Witkovsky,
Circa 1930: Art History and the New Photography,
tudes Photographiques 23 (May 2009), pp. 11638.
9. As an example, see Herbert Molderings on the
Dresden collector Kurt Kirchbach in Molderings, Die
Moderne der Fotografie (Schaden, 2008), pp. 27385.
10. Stefan Gronert has pointed out that the European
art world of the 1950s and 1960s was not dominated
by the discourse of medium specificity that Beaumont
Newhall championed in photography, nor did it witness
the accompanying canonization of figures such as
Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston. See Gronert,
Alternative Pictures: Conceptual Art and the Artistic
Emancipation of Photography in Europe, in Fogle,
The Last Picture Show, pp. 8696.
11. The tactic of staging ones photo op is crucially
important in contemporary art, with roots in the
Conceptual era. There is much self-staging in the
history of photography, however, and it seems misleading to uphold photodocumentation and performances for the camera per se as innovations
specific to the 1960s.
12. Lucy Lippard coined the term dematerialization
with fellow critic John Chandler in 1968. See The
Dematerialization of Art, Art International 12, 2
(February 1968), pp. 3136. One of the first articulations of rematerialization in work of the 1960s
appeared nearly thirty years later, and concerned
photography specifically: David Green, Between
Object and Image, Creative Camera 340 (June/July
1996), pp. 813. The artists studied in Light Years
did largely discuss their work in generic and anonymous terms, deemphasizing any object character,
a fact that has often been pointed out. See Lucy Soutter,
The Photographic Idea: Reconsidering Conceptual
Photography, Afterimage 26, 5 (MarchApril 1999),
pp. 810.
13. Walter Hopps, A Conversation between Walter
Hopps and Edward Ruscha, Who Have Known Each
Other since the Early 1960s, Took Place on September
6, 1992, in Edward Ruscha, Leave Any Information
at the Signal: Writings, Interviews, Bits, Pages, ed.
Alexandra Schwartz (MIT Press, 2002), pp. 31617.
14. Hopps, A Conversation, in Ruscha, Leave Any
Information at the Signal, pp. 31516.
15. Benjamin Buchloh, Conceptual Art, 19621969:
From the Aesthetics of Administration to the Critique
of Institutions, October 55 (Winter 1990), pp. 10543.
16. Agnes Denes, Book of Dust: The Beginning and
the End of Time and Thereafter (Visual Studies Workshop Press, 1989).
17. John Coplans, Concerning Various Small Fires:
Edward Ruscha Discusses His Perplexing Publications, in Ruscha, Leave Any Information at the Signal,
p. 27.

18. Ken Allan, Ed Ruscha, Pop Art and Spectatorship in 1960s Los Angeles, Art Bulletin 92, 3
(September 2010), pp. 231, 24243.
19. Christophe Cherix has detailed the thematics
of Conceptual Art and displacement. See Greetings
from Amsterdam, in In and Out of Amsterdam:
Travels in Conceptual Art, 19601976 (Museum of
Modern Art, New York, 2009), pp. 1322.
20. Giulio Paolini, interview by Carla Lonzi, Collage
(Palermo) 7 (May 1967), p. 18, cited in Maddalena
Disch, Giulio Paolini, in Che fare? Arte Povera: The
Historic Years, ed. Friedemann Malsch, Christiane
Meyer-Stoll, and Valentina Pero (Kehrer, 2010), p. 196.
21. Silverman, Flesh of My Flesh, p. 6.
22. Ibid., p. 2.
23. I wanted to do the same things that I saw in
Minimal and Pop art in a flat, photographic situation.
I wanted to re-do the modules of Larry Bell or Donald
Judd as slide projections. Dan Graham, interview
by Eric de Bruyn, in Beatriz Colomina, Mark Francis,
and Birgit Pelzer, Dan Graham (Phaidon, 2001), p. 44.
Graham devoted a couple of essays to photographic
topics (including one on Eadweard Muybridge) in
his self-published book End Moments (1969), and
thanked photography curator Weston Naef for
the inspiration to write the book. His first two films,
Sunset to Sunrise and Binocular Zoom (1969) were
conceived in filmic and photographic versions as well
(see plate 97). Graham also held one of the earliest
exhibitions in the circuit of vanguard art galleries to
emphasize photography: Dan Graham: Some Photographic Projects (with a catalogue), John Gibson
Gallery, 1970.
24. Mel Bochner, Secrets of the Domes: Mel Bochner
on The Domain of the Great Bear, Artforum 45
(September 2006), p. 344.
25. Mel Bochner, cited in Scott Rothkopf, Mel Bochner
Photographs, 19661969 (Yale University Press, 2002),
p. 14. Rothkopf discusses this particular work and
attendant period issues of literalism and seriality
(pp. 116). See also Sasha M. Newman, The Photo
Pieces, in Richard Field, Mel Bochner: Thought
Made Visible, 19661973 (Yale University Art Gallery,
1995), pp. 11419.
26. See on these points Friedrich Kittler, Gramophone,
Film, Typewriter Camera, trans. Geoffrey WinthropYoung and Michael Wutz (Stanford University Press,
1999); David Joselit, Feedback: Television against
Democracy (MIT Press, 2007).
27. Constance Lewallen, A Rose Has No Teeth: Bruce
Nauman in the 1960s (University of California Press,
2007), p. 63.
28. Janine Mileaf, Captured Things: Man Rays Photographs of Objects, address, Yale University Art
Gallery, April 2008, in Liliane Weissberg and Karen
Beckman, Picture This! (University of Minnesota
Press, forthcoming).
29. Nauman created a well-known piece in 1968

titled My Name as though It Were Written on the Surface

of the Moon. Lunar orbiters relayed photographs
throughout the second half of 1966 and early 1967.
For image catalogs that link to individual survey
pictures in black-and-white and to composite views,
30. Bruce Nauman, introduction by David Whitney
(Leo Castelli Gallery, 1968).
31. My thanks to John Gossage for suggesting this
32. Ruscha had made a painting called Actual Size
in 1962, famously featuring a can of Spam as its
unit of measure. However, the preoccupation with
scale and measurement in (against) illusionistic
representation is widespread in painting of the 1950s
and 1960s, largely traceable to Jasper Johnss use
of rulers and body parts. See Jeffrey Weiss, Painting
Bitten by a Man, in Jasper Johns: An Allegory of
Painting, 19551965 (National Gallery of Art/Yale University Press, 2007), pp. 256, esp. pp. 3540.
33. Mel Bochner, interview by Lizbeth Marano (1994),
in Bochner, Solar System and Rest Rooms: Writings
and Interviews, 19652007 (MIT Press, 2008), p. 172.
34. My thanks to Chrissie Iles and Barbara Heizer
for information on this work; see also Patricia Fairchild,
Primal Acts of Construction/Destruction: The Art
of Michael Heizer, 19671987 (Ph.D. diss., University
of Kansas, 1993), pp. 26973.
35. Willoughby Sharp, Discussions with Heizer,
Oppenheim, Smithson, Avalanche 1 (Fall 1970), p. 70.
36. This and subsequent quotes are from Acconci
Studio, Vito Acconci: Diary of a Body, 19691973 (Edizioni
Charta, 2006), pp. 3941.
37. Adrian Piper, Talking to Myself: The Ongoing
Autobiography of an Art Object (197073), in Selected
Writings in Meta-Art, 19681992, vol. 1 of Out of Order,
Out of Sight (MIT Press, 1996), pp. 3233, citation
dated 1970.
38. My thanks to Pierluigi and Valentina Pero for
this information.
39. See, for example, the installation of Power Fields:
Explorations in the Work of Vito Acconci at the Slought
Foundation, Philadelphia, February 15March 31, 2008,
available at An extended
version of my remarks on Acconci can be found there
as well; see
40. Harald Szeemann, ed., Live in Your Head: When
Attitudes Become Form; Works, Concepts, Processes,
Situations, Information (Institute of Contemporary
Arts, London, 1969), n.pag. On this show and its
close counterpart at the Stedelijk Museum, see Christian
Rattemeyer, Exhibiting the New Art: Op losse
schroeven and When Attitudes Become Form 1969
(Afterall, 2010).
41. Carl Andres exhibition Cuts at the Virginia Dwan
Gallery in 1967 featured pieces made of concrete
capstones with slicelike removals. Andre first showed
his metal floor pieces that year as well.

42. Annette Michelson is apparently the first writer

to have deployed the term indexicality; this was
in her essay Robert Morris: An Aesthetic of Transgression, in Robert Morris (Corcoran Gallery of
Art, 1969); see Carrie Lambert, Moving Still:
Mediating Yvonne Rainers Trio A, October 89
(Summer 1999), p. 102 n. 44.
43. Victor Burgin, e-mail correspondence with the
author, AprilMay 2011: Photopath was intended
as an object of contemplation, not an occasion for
performance. In this sense, the work approaches
photographic documentation of the sort made by
Hamish Fulton and Richard Long. In a piece from
1969, for example, Long plucked daisies in an X shape
from a field of grass in a London park to create a
short path by removal.
44. Rosalind Krauss, Notes on the Index: Seventies
Art in America, October 3 (Spring 1977), p. 81. In
the second part of this article Krauss described the
work of Lucio Pozzi, a painter who had painted
canvases that exactly matched the color of the walls
on which they were hung; October 4 (Fall 1977), pp.
6065. Interestingly, Burgin had proposed doing the
same, as one of four instruction pieces included in
the London version of When Attitudes Become Form.
45. Krauss, Notes on the Index, part 1, October 3
(Summer 1977), p. 81.
46. Roland Barthes, Rhetoric of the Image (1964)
in Image, Music, Text, trans. Stephen Heath (Hill and
Wang, 1977), pp. 4244, 46. The phrase message
without a code first appeared in Barthess essay The
Photographic Message (1961) in Image, Music,
Text, p. 17.
47. Surrealism equals an experience of the real itself as sign, the real fractured by spacing. Rosalind
Krauss, The Photographic Conditions of Surrealism,
October 19 (Winter 1981), p. 25.
48. See Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida (Hill and
Wang, 1981). An important rereading of that development is given in Laura Mulvey, The Index and the
Uncanny, in Time and the Image, ed. Carolyn Bailey
Gill (Manchester University Press, 2000), pp.
13948, 19798.

M at t h ew S . W i t kov s k y