Floating Room: Lit from Inside, 1972
From the outside, the Floating Room seems to be a hanging cube – until the visitior discovers the entrance. When he passes the treshold, everything changes. He finds himself in an average sized room, painted uniformly in white and brightly lit, lacking a single point where he could fixate his gaze. Even the door closes firmly, without a doorknob. And suddenly the room begins to flicker and its contours begin to dissolve. The walls aren’t solid surfaces anymore; one’s own position begins to waver. The hanging room suggests transistions between the walls and the floor where none exist, and the visitor (who has long since become an affected party) begins to increasingly feel as though he is being deprived of security in his standpoint.
There is hardly a second work that disempowers the art observer’s position so succinctly and precisely like the “Floating Room”. We are dealing with a fact that suspends the division between art and world, art and daily life as well as art and the observer. The whole is the phenomenon, and the museum visitor is part of it. In the context of art’s development, Nauman’s “Floating Room” embodies a fundamental step towards a new art.