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X-ACTO SCIENCE: TOM FRIEDMAN

There’s an element of the science nerd in Tom Friedman, or so I would guess—the oversolemn teenager who pauses in the middle of Stephen Hawking’s Brief History of Time, puts aside his cobblestone glasses, and says, Oh wow. This is the Friedman whose language, in his writings and interviews, is sprinkled with a vocabulary of diagrams and rules and methodologies and logics, the Friedman who sees his studio as a “laboratory” in which he plays “both the scientist and the experimental subject,” and who can say, “When I make something . . . I want to build it from the atom up.” In art, this side of Friedman has ancestors in figures like Sol LeWitt, whose rational rationale has been to fix on a procedure and follow it until the work is done—to discover its empirical result. But there is another, weirder side to Friedman’s art, and it seems to be getting more blatant as time goes by.

Some of

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