Give It a Little Time

17 09 2008

I’ve been thinking about Richard Serra’s enormous sculptures and just happened on a few paragraphs about his installation in Paris, where Phillip Glass performed this summer. I generally feel apologetic about my appreciation for Phillip Glass music and I would certainly never try to get anyone to attend a performance with me. It’s probably something like admitting you’re a Cher fan in that you don’t do it unless asked in very direct terms.

So I’m a closet Glass fan and I’ll probably even sneak off to his performance here in Lawrence later this year. But what I’m really thinking about now is the irony that composers Phillip Glass and Steve Reich both worked as Serra’s assistants before they began earning a living at music. I wonder how much their experience in working with very large sculptures informed their approach to music. Both of them compose pieces that require what many would describe as a great deal of patience and certainly Serra’s sculptures require the same. After all, a series of fifty six foot tall iron slabs, placed in a slightly skewed row and tilted just a bit, requires patience. You have to have a little time to view the thing as a whole, from many angles and while the sun casts varying shadows or you’ll simply miss the depth of it.

I think it’s the same with many of the Phillip Glass pieces. When he starts playing I start wondering why I bothered, but I’m eventually sucked in, then forced to break the reverie when I’m back out on the street in the cold, cruel world. The Rothko paintings do me the same way. It just takes some time and patience to feel it, and it can’t be seen no matter how hard you look. I think it’s interesting how these different art forms are as much about time as they are about form or space.

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2 responses

19 09 2008
foghorn

Rothko, Glass, Serra . . . you’re touching the Ruth, Gehrig and Mantle of abstraction.

It makes perfect sense.

21 09 2008
Walt

Clocks seem to be a big thing these days. I assume you saw this: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2008/sep/20/fantastical_new_clock_eats_time_after_telling_it/ but how about this: http://www.longnow.org/projects/clock/

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