The relationship between Graham’s pavilionworks and Robert Morris’ mirrored cubes cannot go unnoticed. Furthermore, itseems as though Morris’ installation had a heavy influence on Graham, as wellas the site-specificity of his work. Morris originally created Untitled in 1965. Made of plexiglassmirrors on wood and 21 inches square, the work was reconstructed in 1971 forhis exhibition at the Tate Gallery (now known as the Tate Britain).
They wereoriginally installed outside in the garden of the gallery. Placed adjacent toone another as though in the four corners of a drawn out square, the cubesstrongly resemble Graham’s Two AdjacentPavilions. Unlike Graham’s structures, however, the viewer cannot enterMorris’ mirrored cubes. Their exterior façades are reflective like the exteriorwalls of the pavilions, but as the mirrored cubes are entirely reflective, thelight bounces off them and creates disruptive shadows and patterns on the grassthey sit on. This then creates the illusion that space has been divided furtherby the reflection of light cutting into the surrounding space.
This is confusedand contradicted as the space that the viewer shares with the four cubes alsobecomes a part of the work and is visually extended by this reflection of thelight that continues back onto the ground. Morris’ work is presented to us at aheight where we cannot experience it without observing ourselves among it. Weare forced to imagine our position within this extended space through a directvisual image. However, the small scale of the cubes in comparison to Graham’s Two Adjacent Pavilions mean that only asmall section of the viewers’ body will be captured in the mirrors reflections.Morris’ intention was to place the cubes effectively in the space so that ”oneis aware of one’s own body at the same time that one is aware of the piece’.
(…)As the viewer walks around the four cubes, their mirrored surfaces producecomplex and shifting interactions between gallery and spectator’ (Tate, 2004).Like Graham’s pavilion works, Morris’ mirrored cubes create the reflection ofthe viewer within them, allowing the work to explore the placement of the bodywithin a further space, reflected between the cubes. In Morris’ experience, thiseffect was best achieved when a raven interacted with the work: ‘I onceobserved a raven attack its reflected image incessantly. It was seeing itselfin one of my “Mirror Cubes” on the lawn of the Tate Gallery in London’ (Morris,1979). For the raven, the illusionary reflection of the extended space, as wellas its body, was real.
It is likely that the raven would never have seen itselfin a mirror before, signifying the referential aspect of the mirror in terms ofhow we identify ourselves. Unlike the raven, we have all experiencedreflections of ourselves before and surpassed the mirror stage, a theory promulgated by the French psychoanalyst andpsychiatrist Jaques Lacan (1901-1981), defining the moment in which achild is able to identify his/herself in their reflection (Lewison, 2002). Therefore the mirrored cubes could not havethe same effect on us that they had on the raven. The raven was also able toview its full body in the work, making the required effect of one being ‘awareof one’s own body at the same time that one is aware of the piece’ more intense.Graham’s pavilion works are successful in this sense, as our entire bodies aresuperimposed among the views and reflections of recurring space.