Room 2

If the artists displayed in Room 1 opened up the art object to engage the viewer and relate to the gallery space, then in Room 2 the gallery space itself becomes the art object. In Measurement: Room, first realised in 1969, American artist Mel Bochner turns the whole room into the cube, which he marks out using a system of measurement. He applies black tape and Letraset to the walls and to various features of the room, mapping out and indicating their height and length. The measurements serve to make viewers aware of their surroundings, and also to make them self-consciously aware that they are now the subject being framed: as if they are being literally sized up. 

Bochner applied various intellectual systems to his work, using numbers, words and photographs to re-examine the nature of art. In contrast to the concrete reality of Minimalist sculpture, he focused on making works about the abstract systems that govern the physical world. Measurement interested Bochner because, while seeming an objective and rational system of knowledge, he saw it as essentially meaningless. He has said, ‘Measurement is one of our means of believing that the world can be reduced to a function of human understanding. Yet, when forced to surrender its transparency, measurement reveals an essential nothingness.’