Höller invites us to slide, all the way from the 5th floor
down to the turbine hall, passing through five floors stocked with
contemporary art and straight to the Tate’s shop and cafeteria.
On the way out, just make sure you buy a poster or a mug in case
you need to prove your presence at the next diner party. The thin
line between a powerful aesthetic experience and the lack of one
is camouflaged with what Höller calls the inner spectacle.
The spectacle is present but not inside.
in a recent interview with Vincent Honor argues that Test Site offers
"the possibility of unique inner experiences that can be used
for the exploration of the self" and also to forget about the
self, I have to add. Test Site is not about an inner experience
it is about the lack of an inner experience. The work does not allow
it and neither the environment, consequently whichever inner experience
that arises from sliding or watching someone else sliding, is independent
of the work, at the most, can be about previous sliding experiences,
which are only conditioned by the observer’s predispositions.
It could be
argued that at least we have to deal with the fear of sliding, but
even that, is controlled by health and safety reasons, which are
important reasons. Nothing can go wrong with the experience; it
has to be exciting but not threatening, polish but not raw. The
question is not about if sliding is art but is more about what remains
of that sliding. The Tate experience remains, carefully constructed
to satisfy and provide a sense of achievement. Tate provides it
all, from the artwork to the cafeteria passing through the seminar
rooms, the cocktails bar and the members room, and now the joy ride;
you can have fun, buy gifts, seduce your date and enjoy the view,
but there is one thing that you are not allowed to experience at
Tate, and that is getting bored.
There is an
idea that needs to be addressed and that is one of time, or the
lack of it. None of the available sliding experiences in the Turbine
Hall allows the observer enough time to experience anything besides
the thrill of sliding. Robert Irwin and James Turrell talk about
a specific and crucial moment in relation to their work, which is
a good example of work that contributes to the development of inner
experiences, a moment that allow us the possibility of catching
ourselves perceiving. In Höller case, the possibility of catching
ourselves sliding, is not contemplated. There isn’t time for
it, we either slide or we watch someone sliding.
From Illusion to Immersion, claims that the more visible an interface
is, the more prone to an inner reflection the observer becomes.
In Test Sites the interface is gravity, or what Einstein called
the distortion of space-time, and not five different slides; the
interface is invisible. Although, inner questions are most unlikely,
external questions are most likely. Questions about the role of
the observer and his or hers quiet presence, participative but not
active, can be raised in relation to the Tate’s context, and
consequently questions about the institution’s need to embark
in a fast-digesting approach. Test Site addresses art institutions
but more important it addresses the role of the observers, and the
observer’s responsibility while establishing a relation with
an artwork, which cannot be reduced to being, that is the unavoidable
requirement to establish any sort of relation.
Grau, O. (2003)
Virtual Art, From Illusion To Immersion, MIT press.
and copyright of the artist and Tate Photography.