Locator with Spotlight and Sunlight

Nancy Holt
Steel pipe, spotlight, vinyl and window
Overall dimensions variable (site responsive); Locator: 60 x 12 x 2 in. (152 x 31 x 5 cm)

Locator with Spotlight and Sunlight was first exhibited at John Weber Gallery in New York City in 1972, not long after Holt created her first Locators looking out the windows of her studio in the West Village onto details of the built environment, such as a cracked window or an exhuast pipe. After focusing on the subject of sight in these early Locator works, Holt transitioned into an investigation of the process of sight itself. 

Looking up through Locator with Spotlight and Sunlight, one sees an ellipse of light created by a spotlight aimed at the wall, which resolves into a perfect orb of light when looking through the Locator. Moving around the Locator to look the other direction, one sees through a circular aperture in the window to the outside. In her text "The Dialectics of Locator with Spotlight and Sunlight" Holt articulates her interest in the contrast between the persistent artificial glow of the electric light with the ever-changing natural light. By channeling vision through the Locator and manipulating light through spatial interventions in Locator with Spotlight and Sunlight, Holt draws parallels between light and sight and poses questions about the interrelated nature of these two phenomena.


Writing by the Artist

The Dialectics of Locator with Spotlight and Sunlight

Nancy Holt

1. Artificial Light vs. Natural Light.

2. Stasis vs. Change: The light intensity of the spotlight remains constant while the sunlight grows brighter or dimmer depending on the time of day and the weather, eventually ending in darkness after sunset when only a dark hole in the window and an oval of light on the wall remain.

3. Two-Dimensional Perspective vs. Three-Dimensional Perspective: Looking through the locator one way, vision dead-ends on the wall, the oval of light cast by the spotlight becoming a circle of light. Looking the other way, the window frame bar, which is visually off-center frontally, bisects the circle of vision. The white bricks of the adjacent building seem to lose depth and approach the window bar and the viewer, resulting in a change of depth perception.

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