In saying that "no metals, other than the expensive, nonoxidizing gold, could be relied upon to give off positive-lig...

on October 22, 2019


Isn't it a logical leap to say that the author is making a distinction between gold (a highly reflective metal) and other metals that can be made reflective? The author mentions nothing about other metals having the capacity to be made reflective. The author simply states that sculptors up to that point had been using a negative lighting technique...which due to context can safely be assumed to be performed on metals that are not highly reflective...thus nobody at the time before nugochi had thought of highly reflective metals or making metals highly reflective for the purpose of making a sculpture.

3 Replies

on October 22, 2019

Hello @tomgbean,

Look at line 37: "Here, finally, was a permanently reflective surface, economically available in massive quantities." An important thing to note is that the phrase "highly reflective" is never used in the passage. What Noguchi sought, rather, was a permanently reflective surface.

I think we need to keep in mind that, although Noguchi was looking for a "purely reflective" sculpture (line 29), this does not mean that no sculptor before him had ever used a reflective material. Remember the work he did for Brancusi. He frequently polished the brass and bronze statues, which suggests to me that they were somewhat reflective, until they needed to be polished once again. Another clue that we are drawing a distinction between permanence and non-permanence is "nonoxodizing" on line 26. Unfortunately, this may require some outside knowledge of metals, but oxidation is what causes metals to tarnish and lose their shine/reflectiveness over time. Gold does not oxidize, which means it doesn't lose its properties. This is the feature of gold that was desired. The author never says that gold is highly reflective. Noguchi needed a less expensive material that also holds its reflective properties.

Good question! This is a tough one.

on October 26, 2019

Thanks for the response!

Brett on October 19 at 12:44AM

I kept re-reading until I saw the bit about the polishing. That's it! There would be no reason to polish the statues unless they periodically lost their reflective properties. The concept of oxidation requires too much background knowledge, whereas polishing is a direct, logical inference.