I. Introduction: Inner and/as Outer Space Through the Frame of
This project seeks to illuminate
alternative modes of exhibiting culture. With the understanding of culture
in the plural in the sense that Michel de Certeau evokes, installation
itself is composed of and envelops multiple elements and media within its
frame. Each component has undergone a considerable history of development,
many forms of which operated outside the traditional and conventional sites
for exhibition. In the following case study that I probe, I situate
the practice of the moving image as central to recent forms of
installation. I examine how installation, by utilizing various forms
of moving images as an alternative form of cinema, changes spatial and
temporal relations, and ultimately produces an intricate form of
spectatorship. The existence of film has redefined the
subject—object relations in the art viewing experience. More than
fifty years after Walter Benjamin's death and a century after the birth of
cinema, moving images continue to reside, such as in the company of other
sensorial mechanism in Rirkrit Tiravanija's outdoor multi-screen
installation work titled Community Cinema for a Quiet
Intersection (1999). By tracing its origins to the panorama,
phantasmagoria, and Expanded Cinema, I will position installation that
employs the projected image in a new context, in relation to issues of
site, temporality, and historicity across works.
First of all, I
assert that the frame serves as a central anchoring
factor of installation. In Cinema I: The
Movement-Image, Gilles Deleuze remarks that the "frame is inseparable
from rigid geometric distinctions." Installation art, beginning from
Environment art, is marked by its three dimensionality, conceived in a
room-sized space. Installation art is framed physically within an
architectural matrix, and shaped conceptually by the site and the context.
While the component of three-dimensionality remains, the terminology of
"installation" reveals an inward movement and thus an effort to bring the
subject inside. The change from environment, which denotes everything, to
installation, a contained space, thus implies a re-assertion of the frame.
Gilles Deleuze's remark on the frame, originally conceived in cinematic
context, nonetheless crystallizes the function of the frame in installation
art: "[…] framing is limitation. But, depending on the concept
itself, the limits can be conceived in two ways, mathematically or
dynamically: either as preliminary to the existence of the bodies whose
essence they fix, or going as far as the power of existing bodies goes."
The latter conception of the dynamic frontiers of the frame informs
the operation of framing in installation art. Deleuze affirms: "the frame
is conceived as a dynamic construction in act [en acte], which is
closely linked to the scene, the image, the characters, and the objects
which fill it." The dynamism and "the power" that "the existing bodies"
exert within installation relate to etymologies of the term "to
While I situate the frame as a defining mechanism of
installation, the concrete frontier that is implied between the interior
and exterior space is simultaneously a myth. As Merleau-Ponty notes,
"inside and outside are inseparable." The interwoven entities of the
inner and outer space constitute a work of installation. I argue that the
logic of inversion organizes the site of heterogeneity that is
installation. In Installation art or installation of arts, disparate media
in their alternative and innovative forms confront and converge with one
another. The inside becomes and functions as the outside, and vice-versa.
The contents project outward the characteristics that oppose their own.
Deleuze notes that all framing determines an out-of-field:
"When a set is framed, therefore seen, there is always a larger set,
or another set with which the first forms a larger one, and which can in
turn be seen, on condition that it gives rise to a new out-of-field, etc.
The set of all these sets forms a homogeneous continuity, a universe or a
plane [plan] of genuinely unlimited content. The set is certainly not a
'whole'[…]. Whole is that which prevents each set from closing in on
itself, however big it is, and forces it to extend itself into a larger
set. The whole is therefore like a thread that traverses sets and gives
each one the possibility, which is necessarily realized, of communicating
with another, to infinity. Thus the whole is the Open […]."
The frame of an installation is not content to neutralize the
environment, but pushes the closed system as far as possible. The frame of
an installation encloses the maximum number of components in the field. At
the same time, the frame creates an image that "opens onto a play of
relations which are purely thought and which weave a whole. Therefore,
there is always out-of-field, even in the most closed image."
Installation is always contained within a frame, whether it be a site,
spatial location, or cultural context. However, like Alberti's window,
installation lets the spectator see through the
frame. Leon Battista Alberti advocated considering the frame of the
painting as an open window, such as in De
Pictura (1435). What is seen through this virtual window is the
out-of-field that is attached to what is inside the frame. Alberti's window
served as a metaphor predominantly for the frame, "a rectangle for seeing
through." The three dimensional installation departs from a two-
dimensional rectangle. The installation, as a window, has a "virtual
transparency" and not an actual "window on the world."
way, installation is a form that suggests its opposite, while at the same
timecontaining the fissures. For example, a four-channel film
projection in an unbounded outdoor space can inversely invoke an enclosed
theatre experience, such as in Tiravanija's Community
Cinema installation work as studied in this
paper. Light in this outdoor installation is simultaneously materialized as
a tactile experience and "eliminate all that we could call an object
situated as distinct from ourselves." Installation then serves as a
malleable form of exhibition. Although delineated by frame, installation is
an (im)material and evanescent sculpture, whose shape, as Merleau-Ponty
notes, is "nothing but a sum of limited views, and the consciousness of a
shape is a collective entity."
Since the pre-modern period, a
range of modes of exhibition attempted to control the chaos and rationalize
a society. However, in today's landscape of art and technology, the very
media that tried to control became part of the chaos themselves in the
"intermedia network." This phenomenon is visible in the proliferating forms
of screens – of cinema, television, street advertisements, computer,
and mobile devices – that surround, and are simultaneously activated
by, contemporary subjects. Thus, the contemporary subjects are becoming
less and less connected to each other in local communities and are,
instead, increasingly involved in virtual communities, through media and
technologies. Today's "commercialized public space," as pointed out by
Conceptual artist Barbara Kruger, lacks social exchange; the exterior
"social" spaces are evacuated of activities and discourses, failing to
house Jürgen Habermas' utopian notion of the culture-debating
public. Rather, by engaging in the mediated space globally, the subject
stretches the intimacy of personal communications over longer and ever-more
complex pathways; the contemporary subject has become increasingly
vulnerable, fragmented, and disconnected.
individuals are then encouraged to escape to institutionalized interiors,
such as museums, that provide spaces in which to
activate meaning-fullsocial exchange and induce specific
readings of that exchange. According to Rosalyn Deutsche, "museums provide
actual spaces and cerebral fodder for exploring art, personal values,
social issues, and civic responsibilities." Museums, or institutionally
commissioned projects such as Community Cinema, thus posit a
shelter, or more precisely, a frame to contain chaos and
fragmented individuals. By impelling relational activities, the mediated
interior of exhibitions is a reminder of the dissolving social spaces of
the exterior world. These new practices allow social exchanges to happen.
The legibility within the mediated space of installation is a displacement
of what the individual is lacking in the social world outside.
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