Bruce Nauman

MAPPING THE STUDIO Notebook (Book 2)


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Bruce Nauman born 1941
Ink on paper
240 × 152 mm
Presented by the American Fund for the Tate Gallery 2005, accessioned 2008


This notebook is one of two used by the artist to document the contents of video footage recorded in his studio at night. Nauman filmed one hour per night intermittently over a period of several months between July 2000 and February 2001. He set up the camera at various locations in his studio, recording several hours at each location. Every morning he would watch the hour he had recorded overnight and carefully log the contents of the tape. He subsequently used these notes as a guide for the final editing of the video installations Mapping the Studio I (Fat Chance John Cage) 2001 (Dia Foundation, New York) and Mapping the Studio II with color shift, flip, flop & flip/flop (Fat Chance John Cage) 2001 (Tate T11893) as well as their edited versions, Mapping the Studio I (Fat Chance John Cage) All Action Edit 2001 (Friedrich Christian Flick Collection, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin) and Mapping the Studio II with color shift, flip, flop & flip/flop (Fat Chance John Cage) All Action Edit 2001 (Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis). The installations take the form of seven simultaneous video projections spread around the walls of a single room.

Mapping the Studio is a group of works that came about by chance. Nauman has explained:

What triggered this piece were the mice. We had a big influx of field mice that summer in the house and in the studio ... They were so plentiful even the cat was getting bored with them ... I was sitting around the studio being frustrated because I didn’t have any new ideas, and I decided that you just have to work with what you’ve got. What I had was this cat and the mice, and I happened to have a video camera in the studio that had infrared capability. So I set it up and turned it on at night and let it run when I wasn’t there, just to see what I’d get ... I thought to myself why not make a map of the studio and its leftovers ... it might be interesting to let the animals, the cat and the mice, make the map of the studio. So I set the camera up in different locations around the studio where the mice tended to travel just to see what they would do amongst the remnants of the work.

(Quoted in AC: Bruce Nauman: Mapping the Studio I, p.11.)

The humble, spiral-bound, lined stenographer’s books reveal Nauman’s method of working. The notation of each numbered tape begins with the specific location where the camera was set up, such as ‘west wall – double doors’, ‘semi diagonal of work station’ or simply ‘same setup as 15’, beside the date of recording. Then the artist lists the action next to the specific frame, typically: ‘dog bark 0:19:49:00’, ‘mouse in at 0:41:43:28’ and ‘exit left at 0:52:49:01’. The notations include comments such as ‘full moon’, ‘windy’ and ‘rain outside’ as well as ‘B – phone call in office’ and ‘a lot of noise’ indicating additional ambient sounds. Toonsis, the artist’s cat, and the unindividuated ‘mouse’ are the principal characters featuring in Nauman’s notes. The pages of text and numbers scrawled in black ink include prolific scratching out, amendments, additions and even the comment ‘trashed’. They reveal that the artist shot a total of fifty-nine tapes in eight locations. From a page in the second book listing tape numbers next to the eight locations, it is clear that he dropped many of the earlier tapes and compressed the remaining material to create the nearly forty-two hours in seven locations (approximately six hours in each one) which constitute the first finished work, Mapping the Studio I (Fat Chance John Cage), on which the subsequent works were based. The notebooks were also used as the basis for the Logbooks for Mapping the Studio I and Mapping the Studio II which list the action in a similar manner to the notebooks. The logbooks take the form of Microsoft Word files printed on A4 paper and displayed on an adjacent wall outside the room exhibiting the pertinent video installation.

Further reading:
AC: Bruce Nauman: Mapping the Studio I (Fat Chance John Cage), exhibition catalogue, Museum Ludwig, Cologne
Bruce Nauman: Mapping the Studio II with color shift, flip, flop & flip/flop (Fat Chance John Cage), exhibition brochure, Sperone Westwater, New York 2002
Bruce Nauman: Theatres of Experience, exhibition catalogue, Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin 2003

Elizabeth Manchester
October 2004/February 2005

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