Bruce Nauman

False Silence, 1971


Single-channel audio installation with wallboard construction;

corridor: 792 x 15 inches; two triangular rooms: 132 x 216 inches and 108 x 264 inches; height matches height of ceiling

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

Panza Collection, 1991


Bruce Nauman's False Silence is a wallboard construction consisting of a corridor flanked by triangular rooms of different sizes. A voice emanates from the end of the corridor opposite the entrance.

The wallboard components are constructed from blueprints, and so the artist must confirm

any site-variable aspects of the installation. The primary vulnerability of this piece is its

reproducible medium: the analog audiocassette Nauman originally recorded for the work's

ambient soundtrack.


Preservation issues to explore include:


Audio source



                            What are the best conditions for storing the original analog

                            audiocassette? What techniques should be applied to restore





                            Should defects inherent in the original recording—poor sound

                            dynamics or background tone—be preserved in future versions

                            of the tape?




                            Should the original analog recording be migrated to an updated

                            source, such as Digital Audio Tape (DAT) or Compact Disc?

                            Should any defects inherent in the original recording--such as

                            poor sound dynamics or a background tone--be cleaned up in

                            future versions of the tape?




                            Under what conditions could the original tape be re-recorded?

                            Could it be re-recorded by another speaker, and if so who

                            chooses an acceptable narrator?



Audio equipment



                            Should dedicated equipment, such as an audio deck or

                            speakers, be stored for future use?




                            in future re-creations of the work, should the appearance of

                            speakers or other visible audio equipment be maintained?




                            Should the speakers and other audio equipment be updated to

                            state-of-the-art technology? Are all resulting changes, such as

                            a cleaner sound, acceptable?




                            Can the audio be delivered to listeners by a completely different

                            means than the traditional audio setup (e.g., a live reading)?



Corridor construction



                            Should any hardware from the original corridor be stored for

                            future use?




                            Should the exact size and appearance of the original corridor be

                            re-created with each future installation?




                            Should the size and appearance of the original corridor be

                            re-scaled to fit each new exhibition context?




                            Is the size and appearance of the corridor meant to vary

                            according to subjective criteria determined by the artist?