Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Rocket science is complicated and so is Marcel Duchamp. Here are a few websites that simplify and reveal the granularity of intent and meaning in Duchamp's work:
Andrew Stafford Web Projects

This excellent site presents a clear, linear artist chronology with highlights of more significant works. It is minimal and the style may not work for everyone. After reading most of the Dawn Ades, Neil Cox and David Hopkins work Marcel Duchamp, this site is a refreshing break from the minutia the book presents of his work. Written in clear, accessible language, the website provides step by step explanations of Duchamp's work, complete with interactive features central to revealing context and meaning. This site is a nice, easy introduction, a good way to find out if you even want a second date with Duchamp. Keep in mind he'll never marry you, no matter how many dates.

The above site is self-described thusly:

The Marcel Duchamp World Community Web Site offers a neutral, unbiased, Internet location for the meeting and exchange of ideas among the international community of people interested in Marcel Duchamp studies. The site welcomes news, events, publications, papers -- anything related to Marcel Duchamp and his larger circle of friends in Dada and Surrealism.

Although the site offers more information streams, it is not visually pleasing or very engaging. It repeats a weakness (or strength depending on what you're after) of the Internet; rabbit holes in every direction to distract and impede forward momentum. Sometimes white noise masquerades as too many uninformed opinions.

The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (the Large Glass)

After 1912, Duchamp would paint only a few more canvases. He was growing increasingly disillusioned with what he called “retinal” art — art that appealed only to the eye — and wanted to create a new kind of art, one which would engage the mind.

He began to make notes for a large-scale project unlike anything else, which would become his monumental work of 1923, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even. In one of these notes Duchamp wonders cryptically “Can one make works of art which are not ‘of art’?”

His next work would take Duchamp far outside existing boundaries of art, into unnamed territory now called conceptual art.

A schematic overlay diagram of Duchamp’s Glass as outlined in the typography of the Green Book.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Few influences, past and future

Edward Muybridge
The Male and Female Figure in Motion 60 Classic Photographic Sequences. Above image from 1897

Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2, 1912

3 Standard Stoppages, 1913-14.

Tom friedman, String Sculpture. 1993

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Another View

Bruce Hainley Essay from Tom Friedman, by Bruce Hainley, Dennis Cooper and Adriane Searle.

The eminences grises are down on Duchamp. Even though they might not agree on much, they do agree on how disastrous Duchamp's influence has been on, well, just about everything. They are really down on him. Why? I think it has something to do with Duchamp's supposedly abandoning the retinal and his pranks, his bad puns. Or it might have to do with a perceived elitism, a Frenchman lording it over bohemian Americans. But even Duchamp didn't always listen to himself. his objects object; his paintings tell a different story, as does his indifference.

He loved art so much he stripped it bare and left it in the woods. It died of frostbite and hypothermia. he was said to be in mourning by playing chess, by being just a breather, but in his dust breeder's dusty studio he built a remarkable stand-in. he tinkered on it for twenty years. It was an invasion into a thickety scene of givens: given the waterfall, given the green light, given the body stripped down to its strangeness, given the brambles, given the peepholes, given it's hard to see.

It's hard to see how he abandoned anything except what was abandoning him. He saw the technology of 'art' and the technology of 'self' in need of a mechanic, in need of a scientist, in need of someone to play with the technology of seeing. It was his train set. He liked when the engine tunnelled into the dark.