Saturday, March 13, 2010

Theory on the Open Book

Shot at 12:10

Why would Marxhausen want his Open Book sculpture tucked away behind Link library? Contrast this with the Son of Man be Free: that sculpture resides in the heart of the campus, with no trees obstructing student's view of it, and no buildings close enough to cast their shadow on it. Most students will pass by it on their way to different classes throughout the day, which means almost every student not only sees it daily, but can appreciate how it changes as the day goes by and the sun travels further west. This is probably why students poke fun at the Son of Man be Free so often: it's something most Concordia students are very familiar with.

Conversely, during the school day, a student would have to go out of his way to see the Open Book. From morning til noon, the sun is blocked by the building, so the afternoon is the only time you can appreciate strong sunlight's effect on it.

However, when Marxhausen discussed his sculpture in an interview, he explained that its placement was deliberate:

I decided to design something which was away from the wall so that it uses the space out here a little bit more rather than glue it up against a wall; then having it three dimensional like this so that the sun can play on its surfaces.

Based on this information, I've theorized that Marxhausen was not only well aware that his sculpture would be in shadow for part of the day, he wanted that variety between strong, dramatic light, and subtler light.

In A Time to See Marxy talked about some bottles that by a window in his house:

I've taken about twenty slides of these bottles sitting in the window and no two slides are alike. They're different because the light changes and the atmosphere changes and the sun changes. And sometimes they look very dramatic and sometimes they look very I get up in the morning and come to this little space I can see things differently as it's reflected in the obejcts.

Marxhausen aprreciated these bottles because of the variety. Similarly, the Open Book is sometimes dramatic and sometimes less dramatic because of the sun's lighting. As I've written in the past, Marxhausen loved the changes he saw in nature and he taught his students that seeing beauty is a deliberate, agressive action.

Since students have to go out of their way to appreciate the Open Book, seeing it at a moment when the sunlight is dramatic is all the more special. I'm positive that Marxhausen planned it that way.

One can't passively enjoy the Open Book; one has to actively make time to come appreciate it in its best light.

- Duncan