Thursday, March 22, 2007

standard stoppages...



marcel duchamp's three standard stoppages is one of my favorite works. it hits you on two levels; the things are simply beautiful, and they are fodder for a ton of mental wandering. when i discovered this drawing from 1911 by francis coy, i couldn't help but think she got there first... no curves and no irony, but a darned beautiful little drawing of lines reflecting on the potential of lengths and ripe for mental wandering.

while looking for an image of duchamp's stoppages, i found an interesting article on the lie of duchamp's method in producing the stoppages. supposedly created by dropping thread a meter long from a meter's height onto a canvas; scientific method has proven duchamp's resulting forms impossible, and some detective work on the originals prove the images were built very simply. on one hand this kind of research is interesting; on the other hand, for me, it doesn't really matter, because it doesn't change my experience or relationship to the objects themselves.

for duchamp the piece was a seminal work, and not because he pulled the wool over people's eyes about its making..."for me it opened the way -the way to escape from those traditional methods of expression long associated with art. I didn't realize at the time what I had stumbled on. When you tap something, you don't always recognize the sound. That's apt to come later. For me the Three Standard Stoppages was a first gesture liberating me from the past."

in my opinion, the move wasn't only about traditional methods of expression; but also traditional methods of thinking (specifically about measurement and measuring). in this work, meaning isn't found so much in the actual method of production as it is in the idea of that production - and in the fact that the finished work is still poetic enough to evoke some very profound dialogue. there is a gargantuan world of trajectories one can take from these objects as starting points regardless of their truth.

it's the same with francis coy's drawing. i am free to travel down as many roads as my experience with this object will take me, regardless of her own intentions (probably a math exercise). its quiet poetry allows me to make it my own (not because it now lives here, but emotionally and intellectually)... and i don't really care how she made it...

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Anonymous pgwp said...

Your blog is like the i ching of cyberspace.

4:00 PM  
Blogger the art of memory said...

i am going to the MoMA next week, can't wait, if i remember they have some nice stoppages there.
its funny, i wasn't familiar with francis coy, so i looked her up on google, and this seemed to be the only page that came up.
i agree with you about the beauty of duchamp's work, (along with beuys & cage), it is frustrating he (they) has a reputation as such iconoclast.
i never really saw that, unless humor is anti-art.

5:41 PM  
Anonymous Rhonda R. Shearer said...

Thanks for citing Gould's and my paper, in

Your quote by Duchamp is a good one: "When you tap something, you don't always recognize the sound. That's apt to come later. For me the Three Standard Stoppages was a first gesture liberating me from the past."

What is Duchamp saying here? I believe Duchamp figured out that he could add "delay" into a work. The meaning today--the 3 Standard Stoppages as one meter threads dropped three times form a meter height--is suddenly Not what we believed it to be. DING!

The ding... The sound Duchamp speaks of that comes later and liberates his work.Lots of time has passed but the new information creates a whole new reality and a new work, in the very same place where the old one was seen before. The new and old works are only separated by time and belief and exist in the same space.

Duchamp told us he was a lazy artist. With his new representational system he builds two works into one material space. He does not have to build a new object. He is dead. His new system is "liberating me [him] from the past." His tombstone says "Besides, it's always the others who die." In other words, not him. He is so creative he can make works and not even be alive. He was always concerned with posterity and making works for not the 50 year spectators, but the 100 year audiences.

In the case of the 3 Standard Stoppages, the new facts are a break with a fixed image and belief in the mind. We read and believe the dogma and can not see outside it without great difficulty. This is the essence of creativity. To break free of mental restrictions.

Duchamp was concerned with "The Creative Act" and wrote about it.

It's a shock to suddenly learn that historians and MOMA museum curators never noticed that the threads are longer than a meter and never fell but were sewn through the canvas.

I believe this was Duchamp's point. Never a fan of the art authorities, he knew they saw art with the retina that he hated, not the mind like in chess that he loved.

The shift of factual reality that occurs in this work--moving from the 3 threads are one meter in length the 3 threads are NOT one meter in length--challenges the viewer much more than just coming up with an endless stream of poetic meanings. Duchamp was primary a chess player after all.

Obviously, Duchamp knew the 3 threads were longer than a meter and were sewn through, not dropped as he described. Was it just a Dada joke or was it a powerful new representational system where he, the artist literally transforms physically reality.

There are many reasons why I believe it was a formal system. One major one is that Duchamp repeats this same trick--now you see it, surprise! now you don't--in many works.

I believe that Duchamp found a "way" where he could "escape from those traditional methods of expression long associated with art" just as he said.

7:24 PM  

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