The dynamics of artworks versus the Dynamics of Surrounding Reality

For the artists presented in the exhibition, the optical illusions, structures and mechanisms they created--some more, some less complex--were, indeed, a point of departure, rather than the destination. They all set out to overcome the condition of stasis and a pre-defined framework, however many were not satisfied with merely an imitation or representation of movement. They were looking for a way to make movement and dynamics an irrevocable component of their works, so that there would indeed be a metamorphosis taking place, a vibration, an unanchored freedom of motion—and for the viewers, an experience. They defied the concept of sight as the supreme sense, creating works that were meant to be manipulated by the viewer or works that drew viewers into an immersive environment that altered their perception. For a number of these artists, it was the environment that had become the key medium, and participation was the primary means for accessing the work. The art of contemplation was replaced by the art of participative action.

This transcendence of two-dimensionality was the key postulate in the Theory of the Non-Object, by Fereira Gullar, published in 1950. Invoking the European and Russian Avant-garde, the Brazilian poet defines a “non-object” using vocabulary related to the staging of an event: He wrote of the need for the viewer to adapt his place and role, the need for him or her to open up to the environment, abandoning classical dichotomies, such as realism versus abstraction, object versus viewer, art versus architecture, and so on. Gullar urged mankind to get away from the stasis of a work in favor of turning it into a “living organism,” endowed with parameters that are constantly in flux, to get away from painterly representation in favor of sensory experiments with audience engagement, set against the backdrop of the world itself.