regarding Tony Smith's six-foot cube:
Q: Why didn't you make it larger so that it would loom over the observer?
A: I was not making a monument
Q: Then why didn't yo umake it smaller so that the observer could see over the top?
A: I was not making an object
"One way of describing what Smith was making might be something like a surrogate person- that is, a kind of statue.
One could see the two-by-fours under the piece, which keep it from appearing like architecture or a monument, and set it off as sculpture... the apparent hollowness of most literalist work-
the quality of having an inside- is almost blatantly anthropomorphic."
Michael Fried, Art and Objecthood
However, alas, our eyeballs are not like that. When walking by a canal, rather than the floating spaces, our eyes are first caught by the broken dolls, scraps of wood, and bottles floating on the surface of the water. Shamefully, we are more sensitive towards objects than spaces. One can understand the predilections of such a gaze by looking at the homework that Bigakko 21 student Shinbo Minami 22 submitted to Professor Akasegawa 23 sixteen years ago.
Because we are preoccupied by objects, each individual object leaves an interesting impression as it passes across our eyes, but no trace of an overall order remains on our retinas. Rather than the spaces, we have a direct reaction to the expression of the individual entity as a thing, so let us call this type of sensitivity “object sensitivity.” In pre-modern times—an era of unified order and unified space—individual items were embedded within the whole, so from the standpoint of object sensitivity, they were not very interesting. They provided only weak stimulation.
Entities that are incorporated into the whole but stick out like art objects are restricted to moments of deviation from the overall order. So maybe, to the extent that an entity projects from a space—which is another name for visualization of the overall order—it becomes an object.
Mono-ha was an art movement based in Japan, active from around 1968 to 1975. The artists tended to present natural and industrial materials such as stone, soil, wood, paper, cotton, steel plates, and paraffin—”things” (mono)—on their own or in combination with one another. Contrary to the mainstream anti-art tendencies of Zenēi Bijutsu (avant-garde art), Mono-ha attempted to reconfigure art through the reduction of objects to their primary form. Unaltered, natural matter and objects were considered not as material, but in and of themselves significant and autonomous. Attempts were made to draw out a kind of artistic expression from matter by directly engaging in its being (ari-yō), perception, and relations.