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Mary M. Tinti

Installation art encompasses a broad range of media, styles, definitions, practices, and origins, but it is most commonly associated with artworks since the 1950s that have called attention to the physical spaces that contain them and incorporated those spaces as important formal components that are integral to a viewer’s experience of the work. The term includes, but is not limited to, sculpture, light, sound, video, or performance pieces, and architectural, environmental, or assemblage constructions—all of which invite unique artistic and spatial encounters and offer a viable alternative to the equivalence of artworks as self-contained, singular objects. Implicit in much installation art is an assumption that it has been created to occupy a very particular space (whether as part of an exhibition or on its own); one that the viewer is meant to enter physically.

The history of installation art varies according to the source. Some cite the theories behind centuries of great cathedrals or planned formal gardens as precursors to installation art while others settle on the “total work of art” principles behind Wagner’s philosophy of the ...