Who released the jar of air?
November 5, 2012 9:37 PM   Subscribe

Help me identify this piece of art I learned about during an art history class: it involved the artist or one of his / her assistants releasing a jar of air into the...air. Although the act itself was the art piece, it was recorded in a photo that shows this person with the open jar of air in some kind of field or related outdoor setting. I think it was black and white.

For what it's worth this was an undergrad class at the University of British Columbia, taught by Ken Lum.
posted by Dr. Send to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Are you thinking of Yves Klein? Scroll down for b/w photo.
posted by unknowncommand at 9:42 PM on November 5, 2012

Response by poster: Hmm, getting sort of close, but I specifically remember it being about air, rather than nothingness, and the photo was definitely in a natural environment, rather than a city. There was also a jar, made of glass, probably between a quart and a gallon in volume, that was being held up by this person.
posted by Dr. Send at 9:50 PM on November 5, 2012

Robert Barry, Inert Gas Series
posted by alex_skazat at 10:10 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

2nding alex_skazat, inert gas series is what you are looking for.
posted by ruhroh at 10:39 PM on November 5, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks, alex_skazat and ruhroh. The photos I can find of the Inert Gas Series are definitely within my brain's margin of error. But I'm curious--do you know if there was one from the series (which is not googlable) that involved a person and a glass jar?
posted by Dr. Send at 9:52 PM on November 6, 2012

Best answer: Perhaps, but I can't recollect any of them, any better than you can.

Conceptual art of this period is really weird, as the documentation that's sooooooo important to the, "piece" is hard to see for free, as someone "bought" it, and to keep it worth something, they do strange things to keep its value... at least that's what it feels like in 2012, where we're all about sharing our experiences. The last time I saw his work was in LA, as there was a huge show of 70's Conceptual Land Art and his stuff kinda fits in. There's so much of Bruce Nauman's work that I'd love to discover, but it feels strange that I can't find even his "Playing a Note on the Violin While I Walk Around the Studio" - which I think is an incredible on like Youtube, just to - you know, *watch*.

As Art School fodder, Barry's sort of the go-to guy for, "releasing gases and taking pictures of them", so that's what immediately was returned from my Brain. Most of the photos I remember from the show, are of gas canisters - like you'd see someone with, filling up helium balloons with, and not simply a glass jar.

That's sounds more like someone collecting air, rather than releasing it - and that sounds like a tourist trinket you see in places like Cape Cod, etc. In the 70's Art World, I can't think of anyone collecting simply air, though - there's Piero Manzoni who canned his own defecation and who also incidentally put forth the whole world as his, "piece"

I get the feeling that what's taught in Art School in re: to conceptual art is really a small, small pick of specific pieces, for whatever the reasons the Powers That Be decided that these specific artists were important, probably to do with their investment in them. There could have been 1,000 people releasing gases into the atmosphere, at approx. the same time. Your prof. may just have taken a shining to a particular person, a little disengaged from the pale of pop Art History. I'd be curious to now if it wasn't Barry.
posted by alex_skazat at 10:50 PM on November 6, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for your help! Although it will remain somewhat inconclusive until I actually contact Ken and ask him. If I manage through other means to find out I'll definitely let you know.
posted by Dr. Send at 8:44 AM on November 7, 2012

Thanks! :)
posted by alex_skazat at 12:07 AM on November 9, 2012

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