Serra describes in the interview how he reverses the traditional subject-object relationship in art. Here’s the old way: a painting hangs on a gallery wall, and we, the subject, are invited to look at it, the object. We’re here, and it’s there. In contrast, Serra’s work makes us the object. As you walk through the mazelike structure of “Sequence,” for example, the art’s impact is on your own personal experience walking through the space – perhaps feeling confused or disoriented. It’s an experience, not a set of aesthetic qualities in the steel itself. The steel just sets up the context for the experience (always note the importance of setting context when creating good experience!).
I think that Serra’s subject-object reversal teaches an important a lesson for anyone who creates experiences for others – which is to say, every entrepreneur, manager, technologist, teacher, doctor, parent, and most everyone else.
To be a good experience, the focus should be on the other person, not on oneself (or one’s own company, or one’s own short-term benefit).
This pattern holds outside the art world – like, for example, in the world of technology or business. The most user-centered and customer-centered companies are emerging as the leaders of their fields because they make the customer – more accurately, the long-term benefits of the customer – the subject of the development and marketing efforts.