PRINT November 2004


the demise of the slide projector

IN THE EVER-EXPANDING universe of art engaging technology, an encounter with light seems a no-brainer: an absolute in those histories that begin with Renaissance optics, reach a crescendo with the emergence of photography, and of late, dally with the light-emitting diode. The historical roll call of these developments—which typically includes Vermeer and Moholy-Nagy, Flavin, Turrell, and Holzer—stresses the role of light as a medium no less secure or self-evident than oil paint, clay, marble, or canvas. Less discussed, but no less important, is the oblique contribution light plays in the evaluation of works of art, a far more slippery proposition, it turns out, than treating light as a medium in and of itself.

A diptych by Louise Lawler titled Equipment and Entrenchment, 1986, sets the stage for some thoughts to such ends. The left side of the piece—let’s call it the “Equipment” half of

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