The Consequences of the Apparatus: Otto Piene’s Lichtballett
Venue:Stockholm School of Economics
The Consequences of the Apparatus: Otto Piene’s Lichtballett There are three necessary parts to a lamp: the bulb, the fixture, and electrical power. In 1959 at the darkened Galerie Schmela in Düsseldorf, all of those components were obvious in the middle of the gallery floor – but they weren’t the focus of Otto Piene’s show. Instead, the walls, the ceiling and the floor were covered with spots of light that emulated the starry night outside and viewers moving through the space could not help but be covered in light themselves. Visual and atmospheric effects can be memorable, yet it is the lamp, easily overlooked, and the choice of which bulb, what fixture, and how much power that ultimately produces the effecting light. This study takes an argument between Otto Piene and scholar Karl Ruhrberg as the point of departure for an investigation into the historical moment of Piene’s illuminating apparati and how this Foucauldian “system of relations” activates and anchors these works while simultaneously differentiating them from the light experiments of Làzlò Moholy-Nagy 30 years earlier.(1) In installations of immersive light the lamp is the apparatus that mediates between the gallery viewer and Foucault’s “shifting heterogeneous elements:” the bulb manufacturer or the nostalgic connotations of the fixture or the political position of the artist. Through a close examination of iterations of Piene’s Lichtballett, this paper proposes a object based analysis for the effects of these early works of “Light and Space,” eschewing phenomenological readings in favor of illuminating connections between the physical technology and the mid-century viewer. Using archival letters written by Piene, original exhibition documentation, and contemporary critical accounts, this work refocuses the interpretation of these works from the lights on the wall to the lamp on the floor. 1.Michel Foucault “The Confession of the Flesh: a Conversation,” 1980.
Education Ph.D, Art History, University of Illinois at Chicago ABD as of May 2011 Hannah Higgins, Ph.D, advisor
B.A. Art History, Portland State University June, 2007
B.A. Studio Art, University of Maryland May, 2002
Career History School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL August 2012 – present
Instructor, Arthi 1011
The University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL August 2012 – present
Research Assistant for Dr. H. Higgins
Illinois State University, Normal, IL August 2011 – May 2012
Instructor, Art 155, IDS 121
The University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL Summer 2011, Spring 2013
Instructor, AH 100
The University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL August 2009 – May 2011
Teaching Assistant for Dr. R. Munman and Dr. N. Dubin
Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, Chicago, IL August 2007 – August 2009
Presentation of “The Consequences of the Apparatus: Otto Piene’s Lichtballetts” at the (Re)Activating the Object: Social Theory and Material Culture Conference, Western University, London, Ontario, March 2013.
Selected for the University of Illinois at Chicago Art History PhD. Symposium, March 2013.
Presentation of “From Playground to Fetish: The Identity of (the) Mary Jane” at the Mid
America College Art Association Conference, Detroit, October 2012.
Presentation of “Domestic Fluorescent: The Technological Illumination of the American
Suburbs” at the International Conference on the History of Technology, Barcelona, July
Scholars Seminar invited participant, Light Years: Conceptual Art and the Photograph 1965-
1977, The Art Institute of Chicago, 2011.
Recipient of a University of Illinois at Chicago, Art History Graduate Program Committee
Travel Grant for dissertation research, 2011.
Roundtable participant, Rebecca Solnit, “River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the
Technological Wild West,” The Terra Foundation, 2011.
Roundtable participant, Elias Archias, “On Imitating As Precisely As Possible: Yvonne Rainer’s Spiraling Down and a Model of Art for the Present,” Gallery 400, 2011.
Presentation of “Light Art: Environments of Perception” at University of Texas Conference, 1968: A Perspective, 2009.Experience and
Member of the University of Illinois Art History Graduate Student Association (AHGSA)
elected Lecture and Events Committee member 2009-13.
AHGSA Graduate Symposium Panel Moderator, 2012.
As elected Travel Chair of Art History Graduate Student Association, organized:
Graduate student trip to Marfa, TX, 11-14 October 2012.
“Donald Judd: Credible Art” Roundtable with Dr. David Raskin, 2 October 2012.
Graduate student trip to the Farnsworth House, 23 October 2011.
Volunteer, Chicago Humanities Festival, 2012.
Contributor to ChiCritics and ArtSlant-Chicago web-based criticism.
Guest writer for the Co-Prosperity Sphere Artist’s-Class, Summer 2011.
Traveling Scholar at the University of Chicago with Dr. W. J. T. Mitchell and Dr. M. Naef,
Volunteer, College Art Association conference, 2010 and 2011.
Registrar Intern, Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, 2009.
Contracted as the Art Coordinator of monthly art fair, PosterGarden, Portland, 2006-2007.
Arts Writer, Portland State Vanguard, 2006-2007.
Volunteer, Portland Contemporary Art Museum and Portland Time Based Art Festival,
Undergraduate teaching assistant, Portland State University, 2006.
Volunteer, American Association of Museums conference, 2005.
Portland Art Museum docent, 2003-06.
Publications “Fluorescent Paper Trail: Dan Flavin’s Diagrams,” Shift: Graduate Journal of Visual and
Material Culture, http://shiftjournal.org/index.html, October 2012.
“From Playground to Fetish: The Identity of (the) Mary Jane,” Mid America College Art
Association Conference Proceedings, forthcoming, December 2012.
Co-author with Bahar, Emgin, Matteo Serafini, Jytte Thorndahl “Conference Report:
Technology, the Arts and Industrial Culture,” ICON: Journal of Record for ICOHTEC, 2013
Recent Research Photographing Turrell, 2010.
Pixels: Keyword in Media Studies, 2010.
Minimally Drawing Light: Dan Flavin’s Works on Paper, 2010.
Light and Space as a Reflexive Medium, 2010.
The Contemporary Sublime of Olafur Eliasson, 2009.
From Playground to Fetish: The Mary Jane Shoe, 2008.
Domestic Fluorescent: Ambient Luminescence in the Post-War Suburbs, 2008.
Light in the 1960’s: Environments of Perception, 2008.