John Latham One-Second Drawing (17” 2002) (Time Signature 5:1) 1972

Artwork details

John Latham 1921–2006
One-Second Drawing (17” 2002) (Time Signature 5:1)
Date 1972
Medium Acrylic and enamel on wood
Dimensions Object: 271 x 369 x 26 mm
Acquisition Presented by the artist 1976
On display at Tate Britain
Room: 1960

Display caption

In the early 1970s, Latham devised a series of sixty 'One Second Drawings', of which this is an example. In devising these works, Latham returned to the issue of representing visually his idea of a 'least event'. Latham produced a set of instructions which specified that sixty 'drawings' were to be created, one per day, by spraying a piece of white blockboard for one second with black acrylic paint. The numerical sequence in the title of this example (17 2002) relates to the stamp on the back. This records the time of its execution (the seventeenth second of the twentieth minute of the second hour) followed by the date (14 December 1972). Each drawing was also 'minited' using a numerical code, in this case '5:1'. According to this code, the numbers '1' to '5' each refer to different characteristics of the work to which the viewer's attention is directed. '1' signifies that the 'making' of work is significant. '2' indicates that showing the work, not making it, is significant. '3' relates to colour, texture, etc. '4' relates to movement. '5' relates to something outside the work's structure - the 'event' which produced it. '5:1' thus invites the viewer to consider the event which created the work and its process of creation. Since these drawings could be produced by people other than the artist, the stamp also records the identity of the 'operator'.

September 2004

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