Document Type


Link to Associated Event

Spectator Rules: Shaping Making & Meaning in Contemporary Art (


This paper examines the relationship between spectators and two installation pieces--Christo and Jeanne-Claude's Gates (2005) and Do Ho Suh'sGate (2011)-- and complicated, if not contradictory, meanings they convey. Both of the works create an environment for viewers to navigate either in New York City's Central Park or in the Seattle Art Museum, to feel soft textures and airy movements of fabrics the gates are made out of, and to experience the visual by being exposed to either interactions between nature and orange gates or a multi-media display on the surface of the gate featuring animations based on traditional East Asian paintings and serial photographs of the artist's childhood home. Since viewers are asked to pass the gates in these, there is no separation between the pictorial world of art and our mundane world of daily existence. However, viewers realize impassibility of the two gates since they prevent viewers from entering the implied interior space. They are forever destined to meander around over seven thousand gates outside or to circle around the walls of the architectural space unable to enter inside. This paper will argue spectatorship enhances the meaning of passability and impassability of the two works.


Arts and Humanities | Fine Arts | History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology