In the Tate Modern Art Museum in London there's a
glass of water on a chrome shelf 9 feet up...
What follows is an interview with the artist about his work...
Q. To begin with, could you describe this work?
A. Yes, of course. What I've done is change a glass of
water into a full-grown oak tree without altering the
accidents of the glass of water.
Q. The accidents?
A. Yes. The colour, feel, weight, size ...
Q. Do you mean that the glass of water is a symbol of
an oak tree?
A. No. It's not a symbol. I've changed the physical
substance of the glass of water into that of an oak
Q. It looks like a glass of water.
A. Of course it does. I didn't change its appearance.
But it's not a glass of water, it's an oak tree.
Q. Can you prove what you've claimed to have done?
A. Well, yes and no. I claim to have maintained the
physical form of the glass of water and, as you can
see, I have. However, as one normally looks for
evidence of physical change in terms of altered form,
no such proof exists.
Q. Haven't you simply called this glass of water an
A. Absolutely not. It is not a glass of water anymore.
I have changed its actual substance. It would no
longer be accurate to call it a glass of water. One
could call it anything one wished but that would not
alter the fact that it is an oak tree.
Q. Isn't this just a case of the emperor's new
A. No. With the emperor's new clothes people claimed
to see something that wasn't there because they felt
they should. I would be very surprised if anyone told
me they saw an oak tree.
Q. Was it difficult to effect the change?
A. No effort at all. But it took me years of work
before I realised I could do it.
Q. When precisely did the glass of water become an oak
A. When I put the water in the glass.
Q. Does this happen every time you fill a glass with
A. No, of course not. Only when I intend to change it
into an oak tree.
Q. Then intention causes the change?
A. I would say it precipitates the change.
Q. You don't know how you do it?
A. It contradicts what I feel I know about cause and
Q. It seems to me that you are claiming to have worked
a miracle. Isn't that the case?
A. I'm flattered that you think so.
Q. But aren't you the only person who can do something
A. How could I know?
Q. Could you teach others to do it?
A. No, it's not something one can teach.
Q. Do you consider that changing the glass of water
into an oak tree constitutes an art work?
Q. What precisely is the art work? The glass of water?
A. There is no glass of water anymore.
Q. The process of change?
A. There is no process involved in the change.
Q. The oak tree?
A. Yes. The oak tree.
Q. But the oak tree only exists in the mind.
A. No. The actual oak tree is physically present but
in the form of the glass of water. As the glass of
water was a particular glass of water, the oak tree is
also a particular oak tree. To conceive the category
'oak tree' or to picture a particular oak tree is not
to understand and experience what appears to be a
glass of water as an oak tree. Just as it is
imperceivable it also inconceivable.
Q. Did the particular oak tree exist somewhere else
before it took the form of a glass of water?
A. No. This particular oak tree did not exist
previously. I should also point out that it does not
and will not ever have any other form than that of a
glass of water.
Q. How long will it continue to be an oak tree?
A. Until I change it.