Bruce Nauman: Natural Light, Blue Light Room
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Forget objects, sculptures and paintings – Bruce Nauman doesn’t need any of that to make art. For this piece (first made in 1971), all he needed was an empty room and some light. It follows a conceptual path that Yves Klein laid when he filled a gallery with naff-all back in 1958, and in its own quiet, simple way, it’s a pretty great work of art.
The empty room has a line of bright blue neon lights on one side and a line of natural light emerging from the ground on the other. The pinky yellowness of the outside spectrum clashes with the harshness of the blue. It’s like hearing two conversations at once, in different languages, or being given two sets of contrasting information.
It really sneaks up on you. At first you think: Great, a blue room, so what? But then your vision slowly gets twisted up in the light, your eyes blur, the room feels shaky. Nauman somehow manages to fill this empty room with confusion and clashing data. It’s a proper, physical experience, magicked out of nothing, and it will have you seeing things in a totally new, uncomfortable light.