Viewing single post of blog Degree Project: Digital Sketchbook

Bruce Nauman is an American Conceptual artist and works a lot with performance, neon lights and film. These are also the materials I have been known to work with. He approaches this materials very differently and I am mostly interested in his performances pieces, this was a name given by Jane in my 1-1 12/03/21, in response to my recent films To Bite, Just a Nibble or Two etc, to look at the way he changes the film once its been recorded and how this impacts the viewing and its portrayal. In Poke in the eye/nose/ear below, Nauman focuses the attention on the in and out focus of the camera, meaning “your attention moves around quite a bit” (Art21, 2013) as almost there’s too much to take in.

Reflection 28/04/21: I used this approach with Sweet Tooth B&W because this is how I want it to feel when you watch Sweet Tooth B&W in a space – very consuming/immersive. Because the mouth is continually moving and is projected so large, it almost is so busy to keep your eyes on the two moving mouths. Quite stressful but this is what I want, the viewers to experience this stress like women under male domination.

Wtih the focus editing comes time. He slows his films down quite a lot, see above, as “things happen slowly enough it becomes almost like a landscape, just watching the slow frame by frame change” (Art21, 2013), you can see a slight gutter in the film from where its been slowed down so much, it adds to the impact of the performance. The slowed time also gives you the to view the frames and “to see things you couldn’t see otherwise, making you watch the formal part of it” (Art21, 2013). See the eye poking section below, the slowed down approach, is what makes it feel like the act of poking is being drawn out to disturb the viewers as soon as the finger touches pokes the eye you expect it to stop, but it keeps going, it feel gruesome in a way it becomes unbearable to watch because it’s a strange act on its own, without the slowed down view. I really intrigued by the poke in the eye the most, I feel like its the most unusual, “it forces the viewer to watch an uncomfortable situation” (Pena, 2014) and this is an element I want to work with when editing my films further, could be quite impactful in regards to how the audience may feel after watching.

Reflection 21/04/21: The slowness of a projection works so well for experimentation in the studio as part of the exhibition proposal. I feel the slowness is more beneficial in person as you are in the space with it, where as for this as we are unable to have a physical exhibition, it has to be digital and I think the slowness of the film gets almost lost in documentation.

  • Some people experiences phobias with eyes and poking, called Aichmophobia. Poke in eye/nose/ear could almost be trigger for someone, making it quite a dangerous film in a way as it could really upset someone.

Bruce Nauman, Poke in the eye/nose/ear, 1994.

Reflection 25/03/21: After my group crit yesterday, 24/03/21 I put forward Sweet Tooth B&W and edited this a similar way to Nauman but included points of slow motion instead. I looped it and my peers and tutors said after a while they felt slightly sick as it’s a disturbing concept of a breasts being eaten and your forced to watch it in slow motion, a similar approach to how Nauman has potentially worked with a phobia of eye poking to disgust viewers, as well as a finger in the nose and ear.


The staring at the screen feels like he is watching you watch him, this introduces ideas of the reversible gaze, even though Nauman in the film cannot see you, it holds this feel that he’s watching you watch him as the “viewer’s gaze moves around the screen at various points in the video” (Pena, 2014). I feel the staring almost distracts you as you almost forget what’s going to happen, even though you already know due to the title but when he pokes his eye I felt surprised and immediately weird watching. Nauman states its “more painful for the viewer than it was for me” (Art21, 2013), there’s this off putting sense of not wanting to watch but not being able to look away – this is a reaction I have with To Bite and I aim to create this feeling more intensely as I grow the film further.

Reflection 25/03/21: From the group crit 24/03/21 I was successful in the sense of the viewers sign unable to stop watching and questioning what else is going to happen even though nothing does. It holds people to the point they feel sick/weird similar to Nauman, in my response.


Poke in eye/nose/ear plays on all levels of disgust as a child you’re told not to pick your nose, but Nauman has a zoomed in an approach, forcing viewers to watch the act – the same with my film To Bite. You’re told as a child to close your mouth but in this film the male munches aggressively with the mouth open wide. Its actions like these that we’re not used to seeing, is what makes us uncomfortable. It is also the reaction “an enormous partial shot of Nauman’s head moves in slowed response to auto-violent acts” (Heathcote, 1998) where you can see the impact the act has had. There’s no noise at all with the film so it makes the work feel a lot more destructive and eery. “This retrospective is his ever-increasing desire to explore ways in which performance can both conceal and reveal the self – a self that is increasingly dark and cerebrally sado-masochistic.” (Heathcote, 1998) a self that people chose to ignore and possible hide from, he puts it on display, whether it has noise or not.

Reflection 25/03/21: I decided to use this aspect within my own work of Sweet Tooth B&W to use no sound, because there’s nothing to be heard, it almost makes the visual of it more aggressive, just like Nauman’s Poke in the eye/nose/ear, feels harmful. A peer said its like your other senses become heightened so while you’re watching you feel immersed into it further – you’d think sound would do this!