Aus der Serie "Hypothesis"

© Generali Foundation Collection—Permanent Loan to the Museum der Moderne Salzburg

Adrian Piper

Hypothesis: Situation #5, 1969

"Hypothesis Series" (1969-70)

Photo montage 3 parts, 3 pages typescript text on paper, black-and-white photocopies, 1 photo montage (space-time coordinates) with 10 black-and-white photographs, vintage prints, silver gelatin on baryta paper, mounted on green graph paper, ink Framed 28.5 x 43.6 cm, 28.4 x 22.3 cm, 28.5 x 86.5 cm


Artwork text

I started working on the Hypothesis series in 1968 and continued until 1970. In earlier pieces—my ”pure” conceptual work—I explored things, words, sounds, and pages of paper as concrete physical objects that referred both to themselves and also outward, to the world of abstract, symbolic meaning. In the Hypothesis series I was interested in connecting these investigations with the investigation of my own body as equally a concrete physical object that could refer to itself as well as to other objects, and in finding the points of similarity and difference. This series was the crucial link between the earlier conceptual work and the later, more political work I did having to do with race and gender objectification, otherness, identity, and xenophobia. In the Hypothesis series I was investigating myself as an object that moves through space and time just like any other object, but unlike other specific three-dimensional objects, this one has a peculiar capacity; namely, the capacity to register self-consciously the space and time I am moving through, to actually represent that consciousness symbolically—in photographs— and abstractly—in a coordinate grid, and communicate it. So what I did was to document the contents of my consciousness at specific time intervals as the particular feature that distinguished me from other objects in the world. I held the camera up to my eyes and snapped photographs of whatever I was looking at, at a particular moment. Sometimes I used measured and predetermined time intervals; sometimes I snapped the shutter randomly, depending on what was most convenient. So, for example, in some of them I’m watching TV in my loft and snap a photo every ten seconds during a commercial, say. In another one I’m walking down Hester Street in front of my building and snap the photo at random intervals because I might bump into someone if I concentrate too much on measuring the time intervals. The photos were symbolic representations of the contents of my consciousness at a particular space-time location and moment. Then I plotted those moments on a space-time coordinate system. The horizontal graph is the lime coordinate and the vertical graph is the space coordinate. The photos connect each moment with a particular space time intersection. Each individual work is an artefact and document of my consciousness during a certain unique interval This is what I concluded was the difference between human objects and other kinds of objects: other objects can be referential (to other things) or self-referential, but only human objects can be conscious (of other things) of being self-conscious. That is, only human objects are also subjects. (Adrian Piper)

Lending history
2018 New York, NY, USA, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) 2012 Karlsruhe, DE, Zentrum für Kunst und Medien (ZKM) 2005 Rotterdam, NL, Witte de With 2.OG 2005 Munich, DE, Haus der Kunst