El Lissitzky, the Russian Avant-Garde, Bauhaus movement artist was one of the first to experiment with the viewer as an integral part of the work. The phenomenological utopia offered a means to transcend an object as it becomes a marker of human thought; an object now means something more than itself. This mirrored the era of war and subsequently the revolution, the end of art as it was known. The end of easel painting and traditional art was potentially a direct reflection of the revolution of the economic and political struggles at the time in the Soviet Union. The presence of the utopian idea in this post-revolutionary time is particularly significant within the work.
Lissitzky’s training as an architect is reflected in the paintings and the knowledge learnt from friend and colleague Malevich’s fourth dimension, which ‘depicts the basis of weight, speed, and direction of movement’ (Malevich, K., 1928, pg.24).
In order for Lissitzky’s work to progress from a surface, to only being fully experienced through the participation of a viewer in motion around the art installation. In the article, ‘PROUN: Not World Visions, but- World Reality’, he writes, ‘we have set the Proun in motion and so we obtain a number of axes of projection; we stand between them and push them apart’ (Lissitzky, E., 1922). They were not to be experienced in a single movement, but through the changing perspective of the viewer through their own personal movements and interaction with the piece throughout the space. Engaging the viewer in a gallery space supported their ideological movement to engage in everyday life and politics. Lissitzky aimed to move the viewer, physically and emotionally through the viewer becoming actively engaged with the artwork itself. He believed in the power of an object which has been realised by the human and grabbed by their thoughts subsequently the relationship with the space in which they share.
Creating these spaces was proof of his belief that humans function on a higher plane than other conscious beings and that we will continue to do so as we advance. The space does not simply exist for the eye to look at, the space exists for us to live in.