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Buky Schwartz:   The Seeing I
Edited by Ted Perry
150 Color Illustrations. 172 pp.
Olive Productions. US$45.00
ISBN: 0897335252

The most powerful and challenging aspect of Buky Schwartz's work is its insistence that the viewer truly engage with the work. Most artwork makes that challenge, but Schwartz pushes the envelope and demands a much greater level of interaction. In many Buky Schwartz pieces, the viewer is literally in the art -- and becomes part of it. This intimate interaction with the piece leads the viewer down a path of inquiry that ultimately leads to a deeper internal understanding of perception, time, and space.

In The Seeing I, editor Ted Perry has focused on works executed between 1992 and 2003. This period covers Schwartz's video installations and constructions, his large outdoor installations and sculptures, and his work with carvings and representations of letters. Schwartz loves presenting the viewer with new ways to engage in perspective, a theme that can be found in most of his work. For example, from a distance, the 1997 outdoor sculpture called "Forest Hill" looks like a solid geometrical shape. As you get closer, you begin to perceive that what looked solid is actually individual pieces of pieces of PVC pipe, arranged in concentric rings. Go even closer and step inside. What seemed like a shape disappears, and now what you perceive is like the individual trees in a forest.

In the indoor video sculpture, "Venus Synchronicity," Schwartz uses three structurally separate but conceptually connected components to create a suggestion of a world and a consciousness that can encompass nature and technology. There is movement incorporated into the sculpture that is produced by a ceiling fan and its rippling effect on the representational water. Images from each segment of the sculpture are transmitted to the other two in a complex interplay of meaning, movement, and form. The piece seems alive, but it is actually the inorganic technology that creates that sense.

In addition to excellent images of the works and interesting and helpful descriptive captions for each, The Seeing I overcomes the problem of representing moving images in the static form of a book by including a CD-ROM to introduce the reader to the movement in Schwartz's video installations.

Also included in The Seeing I are two extensive interviews with the artist. These present an intriguing opportunity for the reader to get a sense of the artist's own feelings about his work and the world around him. The Seeing I also includes an address by Yigal Zalmona of the Israel Museum on the occasion of the dedication of the outdoor sculpture, Hebrew 2000. Hebrew 2000 is a "language sculpture" executed in Hebrew. Zalmona's address points the viewer's attention to Schwartz's love of language and his connection with Hebrew as a form of rich expression in his work.

Buky (pronounced BOO-kie) Schwartz is a sculptor best known for his videoconstructions. His work has been included in the 1966 Venice Biennale, the 1981 Whitney Biennial in New York, the 1982 Carnegie International in Pittsburgh, and the 1987 Documenta in Kassel. He also has been included in leading historical surveys of video art, such as A History of Video Art (1984) at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Video Skulptur (1989), Cologne, Germany.

Editor Ted Perry is a professor of Film and Media Culture and Art at Middlebury College in Vermont. In addition to his work on The Seeing I, he has also published a memoir (My Reel Story), a collection of essays on Modernist films (Masterpieces of Modernist Cinema), and an article on certain psychoanalytic aspects of three films ("Impersonation of the True Self").

Robert G. Edelstein, for Notable Book Reviews
Notable Book Reviews received one or more copies of this book in exchange for this review.
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