The fact that this new type of object was a hybrid - not painting, not traditional, solid sculpture, not functional architecture - does not contradict Judd's insistence on the independence of things. Conversely, he also sought a feeling of wholeness in his work. He felt that his procedure of making different hollow-like boxes provided a structuring experience for the viewer. His attention to a material structure would create the greatest intensity between the viewer and the immediate space of the specific object. His new architecturally scaled work could provide the core of a larger, complex underlying structure.
Inside Western's "box" there is an earlier method of using perspectival lines or planes to depict space. However, Judd was opposed to the western idea of fixing space, so he also opened up the ends of the boxes to allow occupancy and a greater "ambient situation." His concept of order countered hierarchical relationships, particularly those of European rationalism, because he was against any grand, immutable scheme or composition of knowledge that excluded information gathered by the senses. He believed that Cartesian rationalism failed to reflect the disparate conditions of the 20th century. He saw "an existential universe in which parallel lines meet, in which interior and exterior (subjectivity and objectivity) are co-extensive and finally interchangeable, in which order and disorder (symmetry and asymmetry) have equal value. . . ." Furthermore, as one critic has stated, he realized that ". . . all rationalism [is] the same, whether that of a higher, purer harmonic, or that of capital and labor."
Another artist, Robert Smithson, described Judd’s work as "uncanny,” a strange adjective for what was supposed to be rigorous, right-angled work. What Smithson meant was for all Judd's repetition of this defining box structure in various permutations and materials, Judd's space is "elusive" in what it captures, holds, or "misses." As Smithson said: "Time has many anthropomorphic representations, such as Father Time, but space has none. There is no Father Space or Mother Space. Space is nothing, yet we all have a vague faith in it." Suggesting an analogy between abstract space, mineral deposits, and Judd's boxes, Smithson still found Judd's space "elusive."
© Sarah Clark-Langager