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HomeContentsCommentaries > Colin Westerbeck: Photo Synthesis

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Tim HawkinsonOctopus
Cindy ShermanUntitled Film Still #82
Robert Glenn KetchumLakeshore in Morning Fog
Abelardo MorellCamera Obscura Image of the Grand Tetons in Resort Room, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
John SanchezRachel Rosenthal, Artist
Mitch EpsteinBuena Vista, Colorado
Leland RiceVolkswagen With Figure
Catherine WagnerThe Lamps of 1900
Ned SloaneTelephone Pole Piece, Los Angeles: Photograph of Kim Jones
Andrew Freeman#3.4.04- Don Becker's Garage & Guesthouse, Independence, California N36O.48.229 - W118O.11.620
Ken Gonzales-DayFranklin Avenue (1920)
Jo Ann CallisMan in Tie
Bruce NaumanBurning Small Fires (Artist Book)
Annie LeibovitzScarlett Johansson, Chateau Marmont, West Hollywood
David MaiselOblivion 1382-52p
Gilbert B. WeingourtTimothy Leary
Richard MisrachUntitled (Ocotillo)
Edward SteichenSylvia Sidney, Hollywood
Ruben OchoaFwy Wall Extraction
Hunter S. Thompson and othersFrom "Gonzo"
Henry WesselLas Vegas No. 15
James FeeEpiphany
John BaldessariFace (with Red Nose): Plus Four Alternate Noses
Anthony HernandezEverything #2
Ansel AdamsGraduation dress
Loretta AyeroffMountain View, Edris Drive
Grant MudfordWalt Disney Concert Hall, Under Construction #7
Frederick SommerStendhal
Tina ModottiInterior of the Church Tower at Tepotzotlan
Henri Cartier-BressonMexico City
Irving PennHell's Angels, San Francisco
William DassonvilleFrom Glacier Point
Christina FernandezFashion International
Mark LaitaAir Traffic Controller, Todd Phipps, Palmdale, California, May 5, 2006
Juggler, Sergey Gripkov, Los Angeles, February 21, 2000
Mark WyseUntitled Landscape
U.S. Air Force 1352nd Photographic Group, Lookout Mountain StationSugar, 1.2 Kilotons, Nevada
Julius ShulmanVon Sternberg Residence, Northridge
Joaquin TrujilloAmy, Los Ninos
Robert HeineckenShiva Manifesting as a Single Mother
Han NguyenTsunami
Melanie EinzigBikram Yoga Instructor, North Beach, San Francisco
John Patrick SalisburyUntitled No. 134
Karen HalversonGamble House Entry
Bill Owens4th of July Parade, Pleasanton, California
Catherine OpieMy Studio, Suzanne's Work
Eliot PorterReflections in Pool, Escalante River, Utah
Adam BartosLos Angeles
Stan HondaFrom the Heart Mountain Barracks Project
Hiromu KiraThe Thinker
Jeff MermelsteinYosemite National Park, California
Lewis BaltzWest Wall, Unoccupied Industrial Structure, 20 Airway Drive, Costa Mesa
Dennis HopperRobert Irwin
Hansel Mieth and Otto HagelS.F. Water Front
Edward BurtynskyOxford Tire Pile #8, Westley, California
Beahan & McPheeAlmond Trees and Flood Irrigation, Oakdale
Larry SultanBoxers, Mission Hills
Isabel GomesBlue Horizon, Santa Rosa Island
Edward WestonCabbage Leaf
Anthony FriedkinOffshore Winds, Zuma Beach
Richard LongDonner Pass Circle: Along a 20 Day Walk from Ebbetts Pass to the North Fork Feather River Sierra Nevada California 2005
John SwopeDorothy McGuire, Beverly Hills
Hans-Christian SchinkLA Night #1
Herve FriendRedlands From Smiley Hill
Joel SternfeldQueen of the Prom, the Range Nightclub, Slab City, California
   
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Bruce Nauman 
Burning Small Fires (Artist Book) 
1968 
  
© 2006 Bruce Nauman / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York; Courtesy UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive 
  
 
LL/17113 
  
Photo Synthesis
Colin Westerbeck
 
"A Rose Has No Teeth: Bruce Nauman in the 1960s" is on view at the UC Berkeley Art Museum through April 15.
 
Bruce Nauman once did an installation in which, just as you catch a glimpse of yourself on a video monitor when you enter, the screen goes blank. (The image is a delayed feed from a camera outside the entrance.) This piece is a perfect distillation of his idea that all art is ephemeral, and so are you. A lot of Nauman's art has been a similar disappearing act.
 
The piece seen here is a photographic record of Nauman's destruction of a work of art by Ed Ruscha that was also photographic. Ruscha had published a book titled "Various Small Fires and Milk," an intentionally nonsensical collection of trivial photographs. Nauman's oneupmanship was to set ablaze the pages depicting fires and then photograph that. But he didn't have the images cut and bound into a book. He just left them as a single, folded sheet, thereby creating a work whose impracticality made it even more of an in-joke than Ruscha's book.
 
The redundancy in Nauman's title - you don't have to burn a fire, it's already in flames - makes the piece seem dopey, until you see that it's really a philosophical conundrum. Nauman said that he admired Wittgenstein for taking "an argument to the point of logical absurdity." Conceptualists like Nauman typically disguised cleverness as daffiness.
 
[Originally published in West Magazine : February 11, 2007, p.9] 
 
 
  
 
  
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