PRINT September 1980

Breaking the Silence: The Spectator as Speaker

CARL ANDRE REMARKED IN CONVERSATION some years ago that one way to judge a “good” sculpture is by the sound it makes when you strike it. I’ve long thought there is something right, and useful, in this remark. facetious though it may have been as critical advice.

Andre probably had in mind some of his own metal floor pieces when he spoke perceptions of sound figure in the experiencing of those works. 64 Steel Square, 1967, is such a piece, one that I happened to see recently. Sixty-four eight-inch-square steel plates were arrayed on an uneven wood floor in such a way that most of them wobbled audibly under foot. Whether because of irregularity or placement, each plate that wobbled sounded a slightly different pitch. This observation is part of the process by which objects that first appear to be interchangeable modules take on individual realities. The penetrability of Andre’s floor pieces

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