For Beginners (all the combinations of the thumb and fingers)

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For Beginners

Bruce Nauman’s video and audio art is singular in that he does not
simply rely on the digital to create a charged environment; he believes in
including the human body in his digital works, and frequently uses his own body
as part of his designs. Nauman’s video/audio installation “For Beginners
(all the combinations of the thumb and fingers)” expresses this merger of
the organic and the digital by using recordings of the artist’s voice and
images of his hands making various gestures, the latter of which is displayed
on two stacked screens and responds accordingly to the former. The gestures
span multiple combinations of thumb and fingers as the artist’s voice narrates.[1]


Nauman says of his work, “If I was
an artist and I was in the studio, then whatever I was doing in the studio must
be art. At this point art became more of an activity and less of a product.” [2]
He
also believes strongly in the “idea of using the body as a tool or an object
you could manipulate,” and he uses his hands as an expression of this again in
other works, such as his sculpture, “Fifteen Pairs of Hands” [3] “For
Beginners” utilizes the simplicity of repeating gestures as a means of
learning and reflection, inspired in part by children’s piano instruction and
the repetition required to gain mastery of any skill set. [4]

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