BRIAN ENO: Well, I think that all of Anish’s work certainly demands that you do something more than just look at it. The whole nature of the work is that you want to move around it, any of his pieces, you’re immediately invited. You can’t really see it until you start moving around it. You don’t know what it is, so in order to try to understand what it is you start moving around and exploring it so it’s quite opposite from the orchestral model of how work is presented where all of you lot sit still and don’t cough and all of us lot up here do all the work.
And this transformation I think has happened more and more certainly since the fifties and sixties where you had composers like Steve Reich and Glass and so on who are working with the fact that your brain is an active participant. Your brain isn’t a passive listener. Your brain is doing things to the sound all the time and the act of processing can be used as part of the act of the composition. So, in the Steve Reich piece “It’s Gonna Rain”, which probably most of you New Yorkers would know, it’s a very simple piece and very, very, very repetitive. But, the repetition does something to your perceptual mechanism so that you start to hear it differently. It’s an elegant piece because you know that nothing is changing in the piece. You know that what’s changing is in your mind, so it’s an invitation to your mind to become the composer.
ANISH KAPOOR: Can I interrupt only briefly to say repetition of course is part of scale?
BRIAN ENO: It is, it is, repetition is a form of change, I agree. Actually, I’d finished.
PAUL HOLDENGRÄBER: I’d agree too but I’d like to know more. What do you mean?
ANISH KAPOOR: Well, when you repeat a thing and repeat and repeat a thing, it isn’t the same thing. It isn’t even the same size of thing. It comes to be, it comes to have if you like both parody of itself and actuality of itself and also the art world is full of artists who discover a thing and then make it for thirty years, forty years, fifty years, again and again and again and the first making isn’t the same as the last making, that somehow there’s a kind of incantation of the object that changes it, it becomes poetry, it halts time, I’d say it changes time. So, I think this is a process which is profoundly mysterious and we have to dare to let us do this fundamentally stupid thing.
BRIAN ENO: I think this is because when you look at a work of art you don’t actually just look at that thing, you look at the whole history of your looking at things like that. So when you see a new painting you don’t see it in the abstract, you think of all the other paintings you’ve looked at and you see what’s different about this one, what’s different not about it actually but about your experience of that moment. So, repetition of course—in my Oblique Strategies I have this phrase, “Repetition is a form of change.” Because every time you hear something, something changes in your mind, the familiarity creates a sort of—there’s a famous essay by cybernetician Warren McCulloch called “What the Frog’s Eye Sees”. You know how frogs’ eyes work, they don’t scan like ours, they stay still, and they very quickly saturate on any aspect of the environment that isn’t changing, which means they can see flies very easily. Well, I think that a lot of our perceptions are like that. That we very quickly saturate on common material, on repeated material, and we hear tiny differences and often those differences are differences in our perception. So, the repetition thing really makes the point that looking at a piece of art is the latest line in a conversation you’ve been having for a very long time with yourself.