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Marcel Duchamp

This nOde last updated January 15th, 2008 and is permanently morphing...
(9 Et'znab (Flint) / 6 Muwan (Owl) - 178/260 -

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Duchamp, Marcel

Duchamp (d¡-shäN´, dü), Marcel
French-born modernist artist and a leader of the internal linkDada  movement in New York City who was the first to exhibit commonplace objects as art. His paintings include Nude Descending a Staircase (1912).


The individual, man as a man, man as a brain, if you like, interests me more than what he makes, because I've noticed that most artists only repeat themselves.
Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), French artist. Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp, ch. 5 (ed. by Pierre Cabanne, 1967).

internal linkChess
Marcel Duchamp would rather play chess

I am still a victim of chess. It has all the beauty of art-and much more. It cannot be commercialized. Chess is much purer than art in its social position.
Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), French artist. Time (New York, 10 March 1952). Duchamp had given up painting in favor of chess thirty years before.


The chess pieces are the block alphabet which shapes thoughts; and these thoughts, although making a visual design on the chess-board, express their beauty abstractly, like a poem. . . . I have come to the personal conclusion that while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists.
Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), French artist. Address, 30 Aug. 1952, New York State Chess Association. Quoted in: Kynaston McShine, Marcel Duchamp, (ed. by Anne d'Harnoncourt and Kynaston McShine, 1989).

"When artist and spectator play a game of chess it is like designing something or constructing a mechanism of some kind. The competitive side of it has no
importance. "


I have forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste.
Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), French artist. Quoted in: Harriet Janis and Sidney Janis, "Marcel Duchamp: Anti-Artist," in View (New York, 21 March 1945; repr. in Robert Motherwell, Dada Painters and Poets, 1951).


All in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in internal linkcontact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act. This becomes even more obvious when posterity gives its final verdict and sometimes rehabilitates forgotten artists.
Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), French artist. "The Creative Act," lecture, April 1957, in Houston, Texas (published in Art News, New York, Summer 1957; repr. in Robert Lebel, Marcel Duchamp, 1959).

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"I believe that the artist doesn't know what he does. I attach even more importance to the spectator than to the artist. " - Marcel Duchamp

which brings an interesting note to the internal linkBurning Man experience.  on my first and only appearance, i did become a spectator consciously.  it was almost a sense of "reverse discrimination" so that if you didn't "participate" in their very narrow definition, the social construct comes into play just like any other (mainstream) society.  you feel peer pressure to comform to their standard of "participation".  that is why it is most important for me to define TAZ as an automagickally participatory event (find it and show up, and you become the party - not the dj's or "performers").  so basically i walked away from burning man disappointed in one sense:  that they are just as sociologically fascistic as any other non-temporary, non-roaming gathering (burning man is NOT a TAZ, as it's located at the same spot every year, it has become a routine).  i walked away with pride knowing that again, i was on the outside, by a gathering of so-called outsiders, which negated the whole notion of "art" at burning man. - @Om* 1/16/02

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Many an art historian/critic has been lured from the path of useful discussion to fall prey to the romantic desire for internal linkIntention - for Understanding and its comforts in loneliness. Today this seems foolish, for, as Duchamp has shown us, not only is it impossible to "really know what the artists' intent was," but it is also irrelevant. The importance of a work is entirely circumstantial.

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"Basically, that I've never worked for a living. "

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Duchamp once said: "I wanted to put painting once again at the service of the mind." In the creative internal linkprocess responsible for what we usually call Art, Duchamp has said that the spectator's contribution is at least equal in importance to the artist's. According to Duchamp (via Calvin Tomkins), the artist "does not really know what he is doing or why he is doing it. It is the spectator who, through a kind of "inner osmosis," deciphers and interprets the work's inner qualifications, relates them to the external world, and thus completes the creative cycle." Art is thus ultimately created by the viewer - any object, or, potentially, any concept, becomes art when intellectual analysis is focused upon it.

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In October's issue of _The Wire_, # 104, p.22, Mark Sinker defines internal linkBrian Eno: "The man who pissed in Duchamp's urinal is a most charming fraud. Conjuror, charlatan, confidence internal linktrickster: in his preferred - imagined - art/music worlds, all these words we bridle at Brian Eno hears as compliments." internal linkDada, here I come?

Brian Eno's tape recorder

Generators Symbiosis Wilhelm Reich

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The Italian anatomist Luigi Galvani (who inspired Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's classic novel internal link_Frankenstein_ in 1818) discovered in 1786 that internal linkelectricity was one of the essential secrets of life.  This discovery galvanised society, its future applications are only just beginning to be envisaged.  Its infiltration and uses are beyond calculation, its internal linksymbiosis presently is even greater than before as technology increases the use of electricity becomes even more fundamental to the workings of machines - Machine Breeds Machine. Duchamp's futuristic vision of allegorical machines is one of the true marriages between matter and spirit, art and technology, "the spirit is the bride".  Duchamp invented a new physics of his own, closer to Jarry's pataphysics than to conventional science, a fourth internal linkdimensional engineering that goes beyond the rational axiomatic rigidity of scientific law.  One of Duchamp's greatest works, _The Large Glass or the Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors Even_ (1915-23) represents the most difficult and mysterious of all domains, the fourth dimensional phenomenon of sex.  These theoretical suggestions which were later to be discovered by Baron Von K. Reichenbach and internal linkWilhelm Reich, isolate and demonstrate a tangible biological energy generated by the human body (particularly during sexual activity).  These discoveries can only enhance yet even more new possibilities in the future exploration of the man machine symbiosis in all levels of creation.  As technology accelerates and new knowledge formulates so does the spirit in its needs to expand its own awareness, only in the pursuit of knowledge of all things can we discover ourselves.
      - liner notes for track _Techno Geist_ by internal linkClockDVA off of _Man Amplified_ CD atomjacked inventory cache on Contempo (1992)

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When Duchamp submitted a urinal for display as an art object, he broke the internal linktrance of expectation and at the same internal linktime returned aesthetic quality to an object previously regarded as not only mundane but repulsive. With this urinal, Duchamp performed an act of internal linkalchemy, turning lead into gold. With his "ready-mades", constructed from "found" objects, the mundane blazes in an aura of previously unnoticed color, texture and form. - Erik Davis

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internal linkREADY-MADE. Ordinary object promoted to the dignity of an art object by the simple choice of the artist. "Reciprocal ready-made: to use a Rembrandt as an ironing board." (Marcel Duchamp)

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release: _Duras: Duchamp_ CD by internal linkJohn Zorn on Tzadik (1997)
John Zorn - Duras: Duchamp on Tzadik (1997)

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Guided By Voices - Isolation Drills (2001)
Guided By Voices - Isolation Drills 12" (blue vinyl)

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Duchamp said, "Some men like Seurat or like Mondrian were not retinalists, even in wholly seeming to be so."
In 1912, Duchamp was painting a chess King and Queen surrounded by swift nudes. Later that year, Duchamp visited Munich, where he was inspired to move from chess pieces to the bride and bachelors of _The Large Glass_, a complex work a part of which contains 3 windows similar to the 3 windows of internal linkMachu Picchu.
Machu Picchu

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Duchamp's found objects were also "shortcuts" to art. He praised this democratizing internal linkprocess as thankfully eliminating physical "originality" from art production, reducing it to concept internal linkperception alone, a sigh of comic relief that deflects the worshiping of preciously crafted unique objects for the rich and elite. It's up to everyone to decide for themselves if they meant that or anything more than that, but I certainly do on both counts. - from the liner notes of _The Mechanics Of Destruction_ by Radio Boy

As I may have mentioned before, when you reach this inevitable point in the history of "original" music experimentation where all the best moves have ALREADY been made, recycling becomes "revolutionizing" itself. That's where we are in the 21st Century of music and there's no way around it. New has become old and old has become new. It's only "political" because of copyright laws which are so far oblivious to this contradictory shift in modern creative practices. Otherwise, it is the most natural development out of actual circumstances (mental and technological) that one could expect from any art that has been so fully fleshed out  experimentally and, from its inception, was always based on the joys of copying anyway.

As a consequence, modern artists should back off their traditional god complexes, expecting to be prayed for (and payed for) their individual creative efforts wherever they appear in subsequent new contexts by others. Complete propriatory control is neither possible nor desirable in a culture of significantly increased recycling. Ironically, found sample manipulation is the ONLY actually "new" thing to happen in "original" music making since about 1970. If anyone thinks it's "easier" to make something worth while by copping the "best" stuff of other artists, just try it. It has just as many creative pitfalls as "original" ideas ever had, including the one about resting on others' laurels if you don't make it "work" in some new way that's original to you.

"There is no solution because there is no problem" - Duchamp.

DJ internal linkNegativland

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