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Bruce Nauman

Four Corner Piece

1970

Beginning in the mid-1960s, Bruce Nauman incorporated video into complex installations in which experience coalesces into form at the same time that the position of the viewer is exposed and challenged. Four Corner Piece is a square construction of tall white walls in which slightly smaller white walls stand, forming a narrow passageway. Alternating between the four corners of the passageway, video cameras and monitors sit on the floor, the arrangement of which prevents the viewer from glimpsing his or her own image as it is recorded in real time. The radical limitation of movement and the desire to control one’s own image that the work instills recalls on one hand rats in a maze and on the other totalitarian surveillance.

Bruce Nauman (b. 1941, Fort Wayne, Indiana; lives and works in Galisteo, New Mexico)
Four Corner Piece, 1970
Installation with four cameras and four monitors
Dimensions variable
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Purchased with funds provided by the Collectors Committee

Well, I think a lot of the work is about that—not about frustrating, more about the tension of giving and taking away, of giving a certain amount of information and setting up some kind of expectations and then not allowing them to be fulfilled, at least not in the sense that you expect, which is another way of giving two kinds of information that don’t line up. Because you set up certain expectations, then go someplace else, or don’t follow them at all, or stop people from getting wherever you might be going. —Bruce Nauman