Nauman shot two films in 1965, and despite their rudimentary execution they make a compelling diptych. Manipulating the T-Bar (1965) shows the artist delineating what would become his basic studio practice, arranging and rearranging a sculptural form within the constrained architectural parameters of the studio. Film of an actor pretending to be myself making a tape of the sound effects for the film "Manipulating the T-Bar," on the other hand, introduces what would become Nauman's consistent artistic persona: the absent presence.
Nauman had his first gallery show with Nicholas Wilder in Los Angeles shortly before graduating in 1966. "Mold," "device," "shelf," and "platform" are the first words of several of the artwork titles, reinforcing Nauman's minimalist-inflected preoccupation with cast or constructed form. The LA show was a marginal success. Living off a part-time teaching job, Nauman set up shop in a cheap San Francisco storefront. There he continued the artistic relationship (equal parts mentorship and collaboration) he had established with his former teacher William T. Wiley, and spent a lot of time in his studio working with whatever was at hand - mostly, his own body.