revolutionary bluff: pseudo event and image object

It began with Marcel Duchamp. From there it was down the slippery slope to the  avant-gardizing and idealizing of the commodity as a form of esthetic entertainment. The inevitable evolution of market economics to recycle the commodity into various conceptual products. Esthetic purity where art and economics collide, subsumed into the invention of novel commodities.

Paul McCarthy. Read More:

You have Nike Mondrian shoes,Lichenstein BMW’s,  where products shed a commodity identity where pure abstract art devolves into decorative design. But it does raise the exchange value , such as a Calder BMW which serves to reify abstraction and the cool into a marketable commodity with “edge.”

Stuart Hall: All images are encoded and decoded. An image is initially encoded with meaning when created and produced, then further encoded when the image is placed in a context or setting. The viewer then decodes the image when it is consumed .

---Duchamp realized that the moving picture was the future of art, all the more so because it involved mechanical reproduction as well as mechanical movement, and thus was esthetically indifferent, although it was still ironically esthetic -- however absurdly scrambled the esthetics -- in the technologized Nude Descending the Staircase No. 2. Writing to Alfred Stieglitz, Duchamp declared that photography led him to despise -- his word -- and devalue painting, for photography had superseded it and the camera had made the paintbrush obsolete. He said he was waiting for some new technology that would supersede photography and make the camera obsolete, rendering them despicable and valueless. One wonders if the computer, which functions digitally, would have done the job.--- Read More: image:

( see link at end) Put simply: Is there a problem with this situation, and if so what precisely is it? Further, what solutions may be offered? In a provocative recent book, Stuart Ewen offers a clear evaluation of the contemporary image system. He states it succinctly:
The danger is this: as the world encourages us to accept the autonomy of images, “the given facts that appear” imply that substance is unimportant, not worth pursuing. Our own experiences are of little consequence, unless they are substantiated and validated by the world of style. In the midst of such charades, the chasm between surface and reality widens; we experience a growing sense of disorientation…. For meaningful alternatives to come into being, however, the dominance of surface over substance must be overcome. There must be a reconciliation of surface over substance, a reinvigoration of a politics of substance.

Beneath his insightful analysis and his many examples from different domains, Ewen maintains a relatively simple division: There is a world of “substance” where real power rests and where people live their real lives (the “material” world of “essence”) and there is a world of “style” and surface (the evanescent world of “appearances”). In the history of twentieth century capitalism the world of substance has been hidden and given a false veil by the world of appearances. People have given up control of the real world and immersed themselves in the ultimately illusory world of appearances. Surface has triumphed over substance. Read More:

---Recent studies regard Duchamp (1887-1968) as one of the first artists inspired by science and technology. He was fascinated by the technological inventions of his time, and processed them in his artistic work: Electric light, Chemistry, Telegraphy, the description of the Electromagnetic Spectrum, including X-Rays, Atomic Theory, etc. Chronophotography, as a predecessor of the motion picture, has apparently influenced Duchamp’s cubist motion studies like the Nude Descending a Staircase. Because transferring messages through wires, and seeing through a human body seemed so freakish and supernatural, many of the cutting edge technologies of the late 19th/ early 20th century were perceived (and practiced) in close relation to occultism, spiritualism, or simply wizardry. Probably as ambiguous and fascinating as we today see the Large Hadron Collider or String Theory must these technologies have impressed an artist of the fin de siecle. ---Read More:

Even countercultural anti-art, such as Duchamp’s readymades, and anti-elite non-art, such as  “happenings” –  the pseudo-eureka moment,  throwaway art made by quasi-chance in contrast to art made in the belief that it would last forever, that is, art that identifies itself with eternity rather than the specious present — is actively acculturated in the commercial world as “spectacle” in publicity and television shows: distilled and diluted re-workings of Yves Klein and Allan Krapow peformance art with their focus on “individualism.” The advertising world is very aware and capable of linking the avant-gard to commodities and into the cultural dialog.

The ingenuity of our modern times has been this liberation of objects from banality; where even weapons like drone aircraft can be attributed to Bauhaus design and ethics, making them into the spectacular. Like an i-pad.

( see link) Certainly Duchamp’s Large Glass — ironically anti-elite art resurrected as the ultimate elite art, glass fragments, thin foil, lead wire and dust resurrected as a one-of-a-kind collectible, not to say irreplaceable unique commodity — has become an entertaining esthetic commodity, as he himself recognized when he deplored the fact that spectators came to regard it as beautiful and tasteful, undermining his insistence on what he called its esthetic indifference and tastelessness. Duchamp’s Large Glass may once have demanded psychic work, which the psychoanalyst Hanna Segal says differentiates art from entertainment, which makes no psychic demands on one, but it has been theorized to death, confirming that it has become theoretical entertainment — or is it that theoretical work has become entertaining in postmodernity, making the art it operates on unworkable in experience? — and thus no longer works as either anti-art or art. I suggest that without Man Ray’s publicizing and reifying photographic reproduction of the Large Glass covered in dust, it would not have gained art historical consequence as a break with and even negation of art, certainly

disruptive re-conceptualizing. Duchamp set it on the self-destructive path to Conceptualism — so-called dematerialized, and one might add demoralized art. Read More:



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