Mel Bochner, ‘Singer Notes, 1968’, mfc - michèle didier
Mel Bochner, ‘Singer Notes, 1968’, mfc - michèle didier

"Singer Notes, 1968" by Mel Bochner is published in three numbered and signed copies by mfc-michèle didier in 2017.

"Singer Notes, 1968" comprises an exact copy of the "Singer Notes", the whole of the drawings and the notes by Mel Bochner between September and December 1968.

"Singer Notes" is an important work by American artist Mel Bochner yet strangely it remains little-known. While encapsulating the germination of ideas which later proved to be fundamental in Bochner’s extremely influential work since the late 1960s, the "Singer Notes" have been generally ignored.

In early 1968, Bochner replied to an open call organised by the already renowned “Experiments in Art and Technology” programme. Robert Rauschenberg and Billy Klüver initiated E.A.T. in 1966, when scientific optimism within American culture was at its climax. Bochner was selected to partake in a residency at the Singer Laboratories in New Jersey. Between September and December 1968, he was to visit the labs three times a week. The "Singer Notes" are made up of notes and drawings which resulted from the conversations he held with scientists and engineers there. Although, in his application letter, the artist expressed his interest in a computerised “numerical photographic translation”, the residency actually consisted mainly of conversations and dialogical speculation. It was inspiring and instructive but Bochner remained sceptical with regards to the scientists’ positivist predicates. The "Singer Notes", which were the primary outcome of such conversations, tackle several themes: how do scientists translate their research into more concrete applications? how do they design experiments? the nature of colour as a type of energy; the fundamental differences between the analog and the digital; how do scientists (and in a broader sense, people) know what they know? It was in this context that Bochner furthered his interest for intellectual research that he had developed as of 1964, while studying philosophy at Northwestern University in New York, reading the theories of Wittgenstein, Sartre and Heidegger. During the residency, his lack of a preconceived plan and his strong critical view on positivism led Bochner to formulate ideas for new works, as well as for projects which were to exist only conceptually. For example, texts written in the snow with heat-sensitive ink that would only be visible at a certain temperature then would disappear; or images created purely from algorithms, with no preliminary manmade drawings. The "Singer Notes" end on the first utterances of certain speculations which will later become one of Bochner’s most important works, the "Measurement Series".

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Publisher: mfc-michèle didier

About Mel Bochner

Mel Bochner’s approach and materials constantly vary; in fact, the artist formally disavowed allegiance to a single material in his famous essay titled “the Medium and the Tedium” (2010). Bochner—who has produced paintings, installations, and photography—is noted to be one of the most influential pioneers of Conceptual art, and the organizer of the first Conceptual art exhibition in 1966. A recurring theme in Bochner’s work is the relationship between language and physical space or color. This is famously demonstrated in his “Measurement” installations of the late 1960s, visualizing the exact dimensions of rooms and exhibition spaces, and thesaurus-inspired paintings of a single word and its synonyms. Bochner formally studied under Douglas Wilson and Wilfred Readio, though his eventual style would draw strong influence from the works of Clyfford Still and Jean Dubuffet.

American, b. 1940, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, based in New York, New York