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Nine reviews of ET's Aldrich Museum sculpture show

Scroll down for the nine reviews:

-- Edward Tufte

Response to ET sculpture interviews and news

For this interview in Modern Painters (Summer, 2009, p. 12), Lyra Kilston asked
some good questions, recorded and edited my answers, and then sent me the text to
revise and edit. Thus the quotes are a bit more articulate and thoughtful than usual,
although the informality of spoken answers to questions is still present. I'm grateful
to Lyra Kilston for doing this article.

Source: Modern Painters, Summer 2009

-- Edward Tufte

Sense of audience

I've never been a fan of the "know your audience" doctrine in making presentations. Too often, this approach leads to underestimating the audience and sometimes to pandering. Better, presenters should know their content and respect their audience. That's what good teachers do, I believe.

At high levels of creative work that is going to last and have long-run consequences, probably the view of some creators is that the audience can take it or leave it, that if you're not doing something different you're not doing anything at all, that you should do the best you can and put it out to the world and hope for the best. One of Richard Feynman's books is entitled "What do you care what other people think?", a remark made by his mother.

Where the audience comes in, for me, is that I try to reduce impediments to seeing and understanding my work: I try to write clearly, to design books so as to eliminate glitches in getting to my material, to create an elegant argument and visual experience, to remain reasonably civil or at least politely blunt, to avoid the first-person singular, to make it easy for people to see my work, to have vivid summaries, to teach a lot of one-day courses about my work, and to make subtle jokes (often, alas, so subtle that only I recognize them and think them funny). Easing the impediments to access for my audiences has no negative consequences for the quality of the intellectual content.

In reading drafts of my writing, I sometimes try to read through the eyes of selected friends: "What would Fred Mosteller (a Harvard statistician) think about this?" "What would Bob Merton (Columbia sociologist) think about this?" Years ago, they read various manuscripts of mine and made helpful comments. They were also scholar's scholars.

Most of the time my user-testing research involves a sample size of one, myself. I set something aside for a while and try to look at it with fresh eyes, a technique that has revealed murky logic, and over-reliance on brilliant examples or smark-alec quotes (from others) that turn out to be, upon reflection, not quite apt. As noted elsewhere on this board, I'm not a fan of focus groups and human factors approaches to high-level design (raises the floor by heading off disaster, but doesn't help much to raise the ceiling above mediocrity).

In making art, I have never thought or cared much about an audience, the art market, or what other people (outside of my extended family) think. In locating the sculpture at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, I walk around a lot, try to detect impediments to viewing, and seek to increase the number of friendly and diverse paths through the pieces and around the sculpture garden. But again, an N = 1. In making or installing a sculpture, sometimes I'll ask a nearby colleague what they think, just to have something to play off against in my seeing. In the welding shop, I have a long running story-telling joke that we're making this piece for our client Ms. Nefertiti and that we need to create the illusion that it is really difficult and time-consuming for us to make art (which it is not at all) and that the piece required 200 hours of computing with Frank Gehry's super-duper 3D computer modelling program blah blah blah. She's the only client I've ever thought about.

On the other hand, the threat of having a public sculpture show that started, no matter what, on such-and-such a date, has proved enormously stimulating to my sculptural work. Never been more productive in more diverse ways than in the last 18 months since I was offered the Aldrich show. But the effect is on rapidity of making new pieces not on the kinds of sculpture constructed.

Finally I have largely avoided making editions or near-duplicates of my sculptures, since that puts me in the business repeating myself rather than doing new work.

None of the above is meant as advice to anyone else; it is merely description of what I do, an N = 1.

-- Edward Tufte

After Modern Painters, The Cheshire Herald

-- Edward Tufte

Cover picture of Rocket Science 1 and Dancer!

Click here for the July issue of Chronogram

-- Edward Tufte

Waterbury Republican-American

Source: Waterbury Republican-American, July 3, 2009.

-- Edward Tufte

New York Times

Susan Hodara, "A Master of Two Dimensions, Plus One,"

-- Edward Tufte

Response to ET sculpture interviews and news

-- Edward Tufte

-- Edward Tufte


-- XjGlPtHJ (email)

Threads relevant to sculpture:
Ace and Porta do multimedia
Bird Series
Aluminum and stainless steel; many, many pieces moving in the air.
Bouquet sculpture series--and Walking, Seeing, Constructing
Beginning of Bouquet series (now 7); along with theoretical statement beginning the volume 5 project.
Buddha with Bird Nest: sculpture
Complex sculptural shapes
Dear Leader I: landscape sculpture May 2006
Narrative piece about some mysterious porcelain objects in a stainless steel perspective box.
Dog sculpture (Porta the Portuguese Water Dog)
ET Modern
ET museum/gallery in the Chelsea Art District in New York 2010-2013.
ET show at George Champion Modern Shop
ET gallery show in Woodbury, Connecticut.
Escaping Flatland sculptures
Ten large stainless steel pieces in the landscape generate many views and painted color fields as the sun moves across the sky and the season changes.
Feynman Diagrams, Edward Tufte sculptures and exhibits
The Conceptual and Cognitive Art of Feynman Diagrams. Art show + 16 page essay.
Flame Theater
Georgia O'Keeffe and Escaping Flatland
Hogpen Hill #1: sculpture installed August 2006
First major piece (24 feet light, stainless steel) installed in new 122 acre sculpture park underway in Woodbury, Connecticut.
Ironstone artworks, torqued steel
Magritte's Smile
Masks Quartet, 2011
bronze casting
Megaliths, Continuous and Silent, Stuctures of Unknown Significance
Stone+air artworks. Scuplture, megaliths
Millstone sculpture series
Massive industrial pieces sorting out circles and light. Redesigning and repurposing scrap from nuclear power plant.
Multiplicity in visual experiences (ET presentation for a museum show)

Paradox sculptures
Petals 1-3
Aluminum hyperbolic paraboloids in the landscape reflect light and shadow. The pieces move with the contour of the land.
Philosophical Diamond Signs
Philosophical alerts, imperatives, and thoughts about the path past and future.
Rocket Science
~32 feet (10 m) high and ~72 feet (22 m) long, and is constructed from ~48,000 pounds (22,000 kg) of rusting scrap steel
Rocket Science #2 (Lunar Lander)
Rocket Science 3: Airstream Interplanetary Explorer
Sculpture Forgings
Steel forging mounted on wood base. Blacksmithing video.
Sculpture: Negative space studies
Three table pieces; strong positive elements create active negative volumes (the air) to torque. Movies.
Seeing Around: New ET essay published
Skewed Machine
Spring Arcs, an ET landscape sculpture
Four solid stainless steel arcs in the landscape. Long thread, many photographs on meaning, construction, viewing of the piece.
Stainless steel images: anisotropic calligraphy
Big series of engraved 3D anisomorphic images that move with light.
Steel sculptures
Rough, thick, rusting steel, with surface images in the steel's patina.
Table sculptures
About a dozen major table pieces in wood, steel, stainless steel.
The Drawing Center fax show: ET exhibits
The Twigs: Landscape artworks made from steel and air
The beautiful Twig. Steel, 32 feet high, with accompanying thread on reading the piece and the complexities of modeling large 3D objects.
Theater Museum artworks
Tong Bird of Paradise
Towers: a new memorial for 9/11
Visual complexities of light, shadow, perpsective. Perforated stainless steel.
ZZ Smile (Zerlina's Smile)

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